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Senate celebrates budget deal but shutdown still possible

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., left, walk to the chamber after agreeing on a two-year, almost $400B budget deal at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. ap photo

  • House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., is shown on television as she speaks from the House floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, as a news conference that she was supposed to attend goes on in the background. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) Susan Walsh

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., leaves the chamber after announcing an agreement in the Senate on a two-year, almost 400 billion budget deal that would provide Pentagon and domestic programs with huge spending increases, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite

  • A woman is arrested by Capitol Police after participating in an act of civil disobedience in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, in the Russell Rotunda, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin

  • People rally in support of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018, at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation, near the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin

  • Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., talks to reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley of Iowa and Graham released a criminal referral they had sent to the Justice Department earlier this year asking for an investigation into the former spy, Christopher Steele. The senators say they’ve found evidence that either Steele lied to the FBI or classified documents supporting the surveillance contain false statements. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) J. Scott Applewhite



Associated Press
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders brokered a long-elusive budget agreement Wednesday that would shower the Pentagon and domestic programs with an extra $300 billion over the next two years. But both Democratic liberals and GOP tea party forces swung against the plan, raising questions about its chances just a day before the latest government shutdown deadline.

The measure was a win for Republican allies of the Pentagon and for Democrats seeking more for infrastructure projects and combatting opioid abuse. But it represented a bitter defeat for many liberal Democrats who sought to use the party’s leverage on the budget to resolve the plight of immigrant “Dreamers” who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The deal does not address immigration.

Senate leaders hope to approve the measure Thursday and send it to the House for a confirming vote before the government begins to shut down Thursday at midnight. But hurdles remain to avert the second shutdown in a month.

While Senate Democrats celebrated the moment of rare bipartisanship — Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called it a “genuine breakthrough” — progressives and activists blasted them for leaving immigrants in legislative limbo. Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California, herself a key architect of the budget plan, announced her opposition Wednesday morning and mounted a remarkable daylong filibuster on the House floor, trying to force GOP leaders in the House to promise a later vote on legislation to protect the younger immigrants.

“Let Congress work its will,” Pelosi said, before holding the floor for more than eight hours without a break. “What are you afraid of?”

The White House backed the deal — despite President Donald Trump’s outburst a day earlier that he’d welcome a government shutdown if Democrats didn’t accept his immigration-limiting proposals.

Trump himself tweeted that the agreement “is so important for our great Military,” and he urged both Republicans and Democrats to support it.

But the plan faced criticism from deficit hawks in his own party.

Some tea party Republicans shredded the measure as a budget-buster. Combined with the party’s December tax cut bill, the burst in military and other spending would put the GOP-controlled government on track for the first $1 trillion-plus deficits since President Barack Obama’s first term. That’s when Congress passed massive stimulus legislation to try to stabilize a down-spiraling economy.

“It’s too much,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., a fiscal hawk.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., however, backed the agreement and was hoping to cobble together a coalition of moderate Democrats and Republicans to push it through.

Despite the 77-year-old Pelosi’s public talkathon, she was not pressuring the party’s rank-and-file to oppose the measure, Democrats said. The deal contains far more money demanded by Democrats than had seemed possible only weeks ago, including $90 billion in disaster aid for Florida and Texas. Some other veteran Democrats — some of whom said holding the budget deal hostage to action on Dreamer immigrants had already proven to be a failed strategy — appeared more likely to support the agreement.

The budget agreement would give both the Pentagon and domestic agencies relief from a budget freeze that lawmakers say threatens military readiness and training as well as domestic priorities such as combating opioid abuse and repairing the troubled health care system for veterans.