US Senate’s bipartisan spending-hike budget is ‘monstrosity’



US & Canada

US & Canada

US Senate reaches two-year budget deal raising spending

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EPA

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

The US Senate has reached a two-year, $400bn budget agreement that raises spending for defence and some domestic programmes.The bipartisan deal was negotiated by Republican Senator Mitch McConnell and his Democratic counterpart Senator Chuck Schumer.The bill needs to pass the Senate and House of Representatives, where it is expected to face opposition. It comes ahead of a looming deadline to avoid another government shutdown. Congress has to reach a deal before government funding runs out at midnight on Thursday, when a one-month stopgap spending bill is set to expire.Both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have sounded their disapproval for the bill.Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who spoke about immigration for more than six hours on the House floor on Wednesday, vowed to oppose any budget that does not include protections for so-called Dreamers, or young immigrants who were illegally brought to US as children.Turning on the money spigotAnalysis by Anthony Zurcher, BBC News, WashingtonThe spigots of government spending are open once more – at least if the US Senate gets its way.When faced with the question of whether to boost military or domestic spending, Capitol legislators have their answer. Why not both? That marks a decided change from the mood seven years ago, when Congress – pressured by conservative factions – felt compelled to address growing budget deficits after the economic collapse of 2008 and subsequent federal emergency stimulus efforts. Republicans and Democrats agreed to harsh fiscal medicine – mandatory spending caps on military and social programmes.Those days are long gone. At the end of 2017, Republicans pushed through a tax-cut plan that added $1.5tn to the 10-year budget deficit. Now it seems likely spending will surge upward as well, despite the Trump administration’s promises of an austere budget last year.The Senate compromise still has a perilous path through the US House of Representatives, as fiscal hawks worried about federal spending and liberals angry over the lack of an immigration deal threaten opposition. With midterm elections looming, however, it’s likely that enough legislators on both sides of the aisle will welcome a two-year reprieve after months of shutdown drama. White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders praised the Senate bill, saying “we’re certainly happy with the way it’s moving”.But she did not say whether President Donald Trump would sign it into law.”The budget deal should be a budget deal,” she told a news conference, dismissing Mrs Pelosi’s insistence that it include a deal on immigration.Officials at the White House add that the deal to fund the government would also increase the debt ceiling though March 2019.When asked if he supported the bill, Republican Congressman Mo Brooks said: “I’m not only a no. I’m a hell no.”Mr Brooks, a member of the hardline Freedom Caucus, added that the bill is a “debt junkie’s dream” and called Republicans the party of “big spending” and “big government”.The Senate bill, which has not yet been publicly unveiled, reportedly increases defence spending by $80bn in the first fiscal year, and $85bn in the second, according to the New York Times. Non-defence spending, such as a programme to provide health insurance to children, would reportedly increase by $63bn this year, and $68bn next year, the newspaper reported.

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