The House has narrowly passed a sweeping bipartisan budget accord, ending an hours-long government shutdown and clearing a path for huge spending increases for both the Pentagon and domestic programs. The Senate passed the measure earlier Friday. (Feb. 9)
WASHINGTON — President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal Friday, hours after the House passed it in a pre-dawn vote, reopening the federal government after it was partially shut down for the second time in less than a month.
The House voted 240-186, with 73 Democrats and 167 Republicans voting in favor. The hours-long, middle-of-the-night shutdown was the shortest since the 1970s, according to the Congressional Research Service.
President Trump tweeted Friday that he signed the legislation for the government to officially reopen, just as the workday started for millions of federal workers.
“Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before,” the president tweeted. “We love and need our Military and gave them everything — and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
The House vote marked the end of the shortest shutdown on record.
“Ultimately, neither side got everything it wanted in this agreement, but we reached a bipartisan compromise that puts the safety and well-being of the American people first,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement. “Once the president signs this bill into law, we will have a clear path to pursue our ambitious agenda for 2018.”
As promised, House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., voted against the bill following her eight-hour marathon speech on Wednesday, protesting congressional inaction on protections for DREAMers, undocumented immigrants brought here as children.
Pelosi issued a statement early Friday that criticized Ryan, saying he “refused to make a real commitment” to schedule a vote to protect DREAMers. In September, President Trump announced the elimination of an Obama-era program to protect these immigrants from deportation, setting a March 5 deadline for Congress to address their status through legislation.
Pelosi and other Democrats have called on Ryan to guarantee an open debate on legislation — something Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell, R-Ky., has promised in the Senate. She led Democrats in reiterating that demand in a letter to Ryan sent just after the shutdown began at midnight.
“In contrast, Senator McConnell not only gave his commitment to the Senators, he has already begun the process to bring a bill to the Senate floor,” she said. “The fight in the House to protect DREAMers is not over. I’m greatly disappointed that the Speaker does not have the courage to lift the shadow of fear from the lives of these inspiring young people.”
Ryan has said he intends to solve the problem. But he will only bring up a bill that President Trump supports.
“We will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign,” he told reporters Thursday. Of course, it is not entirely clear what the president will demand in an immigration bill. His public statements have embraced a wide range of policy options.
Along with the president, Ryan may also be thinking of the most conservative members of his caucus. The GOP’s hardline House Freedom Caucus members have said that before Ryan became speaker in 2015, he promised them he would not bring up an immigration bill that did not have majority GOP support.
Several Democrats said Thursday that despite Pelosi’s public protests, their leaders weren’t twisting arms to vote one way or the other.
Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., said “do what you want to do” was the message from Pelosi. He voted against the bill.
Rep. Cheri Bustos, a Democrat who represents a swing district in Illinois, told USA TODAY on Thursday she thought the bill was a good deal for Democrats. She didn’t think DREAMers needed to be “jumbled together” with spending legislation.
“We got a lot of what we’ve asked for, whether it’s opioid funding, whether it’s transportation funding, defense — I’ve got an arsenal in my district, which is one of our largest employers — domestic spending,” said Bustos, who voted in favor.
Ryan’s statement to reporters was enough to secure the support of Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida, a Republican, who has voted against previous spending bills because they did not include immigration.
Curbelo said Ryan’s statement was “his strongest commitment yet” and the Florida Republican was “now more hopeful than ever” of a solution.
But the Freedom Caucus took an official position against the deal. While they supported additional defense spending, they argued the deal bloats the size of government.
“I promised my constituents in Western NC that I would work to cut government spending,” the group’s chairman, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., tweeted Thursday night. “This budget deal does the opposite–it expands government spending well beyond the caps, by almost 15%. We have to do better.”
The House vote followed earlier Senate approval of the budget pact that was initially delayed by a protest from Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul. The Senate vote passed 71-28.
The budget agreement is attached to a six-week temporary funding bill needed to keep the government operating and to provide time to implement the budget pact.
The spending deal eliminates strict budget caps — set in 2011 to reduce the federal deficit — and paves the way for Congress to increase defense spending by $165 billion and hike domestic spending by $131 billion over the next two years. All told, the agreement, negotiated by congressional leaders and released late Wednesday night, provides for more than $400 billion in new spending — $300 billion above the caps and more than $100 billion in “emergency” funding that doesn’t count against the spending caps.
The Senate vote, which took place just before 2 a.m., capped a topsy-turvy Thursday that featured filibuster threats, fuming congressional leaders, and frenzied vote counting.
Paul delayed the final Senate vote until after a midnight deadline when funding for the government ran out and a partial shutdown took effect. Like other conservatives, Paul said the budget agreement would pave the way for big spending and ballooning deficits, and he said he was willing to force a shutdown to draw attention to the problem.
“We have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits,” Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night. “I want people to feel uncomfortable” voting in favor of big deficits, he said.
Under Senate rules, Paul had to relent at 1 a.m. Friday, when Senate leaders won a motion to take up the bill and then ushered it toward final passage. Fifteen other Republicans joined Paul in voting against the bill, with many expressing similar objections about the increased deficit spending.
Eleven Democrats and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont also voted no. Although it included new money for health care, education infrastructure, and other cherished Democratic priorities, several Democrats said they could not support a deal that did nothing to protect the DREAMers.
Contributing: Michael Collins, Eliza Collins and Kim Hjelmgaard
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