Donald Trump’s budget deal with Nancy Pelosi infuriates conservatives
WASHINGTON – The two-year budget bill that President Donald Trump hammered out this week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has infuriated some of his closest allies in the Republican party who oppose the billions in new spending the deal would authorize.
But leaders of both the House and Senate have expressed optimism that it will pass before lawmakers leave town for their August recess. The House is expected to vote on the bill on Thursday and the Senate is expected to take it up sometime before its summer break starts at the end of next week.
The budget agreement calls for raising federal spending levels and lifting the government’s debt ceiling, issues that could have triggered a nasty partisan battle and possible government shutdown this fall.
The agreement provides a broad outline for $2.7 trillion in spending over the next two years. That amounts to a $320 billion increase over existing spending limits.
Non-defense appropriations would increase by $56.5 billion over two years, giving domestic programs 4% increases on average in the first year of the pact. Defense appropriations would increase by $46.5 billion over those two years, with the defense budget hitting $738 billion next year, a 3% hike, followed by only a further $2.5 billion increase in 2021.
The deal removes the threat of deep, automatic spending cuts that have hung over budget negotiations since Congress first approved them eight years ago as a way to force a compromise. It also guarantees the government’s ability to continue borrowing by raising the debt ceiling for the next two years.
But tough decisions are still ahead. Because the agreement provides only a broad spending outline, appropriators will have to decide this fall how much money to allocate to individual programs, a contentious process that often touches off intense partisan squabbles.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have welcomed the agreement, saying it would avoid automatic cuts in government programs that would have been “devastating.”
But some House Republicans voiced alarm over the rise in spending.
On Tuesday night, the House Freedom Caucus, a group of more than 30 Republican lawmakers, has vowed to vote against the bill, saying its members have “grave concerns” about it.
The group, which includes many of Trump’s closest allies in the U.S. Congress, called the legislation a “spending frenzy” and said it would put the country on a path to “fiscal insolvency.”
But House Minority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., told reporters the bill delivered on some key conservative priorities, including increases for defense spending.
“It’s tough rounding up votes for it because everyone can find something they don’t like,” Scalise said. “It’s easy to look over all the things that you do like.”
But there was also disappointment among some Republican senators.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called the deal “a missed opportunity.”
Sen. Michael Braun, R-Ind., said the legislation was an “embarrassment” that would burden future generations with debt.
Braun said he wanted to see Republicans “go back to our conservative roots of paying for things as we spend.”
“It’s our kids and our grandkids that are going to be sorting this all out and paying for it,” he added.
Contributing: Michael Collins and The Associated Press