President Donald Trump signed a two-year budget deal into law Friday after Congress passed the bipartisan measure in overnight voting, ending the second government shutdown of 2018.
“Just signed Bill,” Trump tweeted. “Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. 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 measure took effect more than eight hours after federal funding technically expired at midnight. Voting was delayed Thursday by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) over his objections to its reliance on deficit spending.
Convening early Friday morning, the House voted 240-186 to approve the deal, following the Senate’s 71-28 passage hours earlier. Despite the frantic late-night sessions, lawmakers were still unable to avoid what was the second — albeit short-lived — government shutdown in less than a month.
The Kentucky senator occupied the chamber floor for much of the evening Thursday, batting back sharp admonitions from GOP colleagues to relent and running out the clock as he criticized his party for failing to adhere to 2011 budget caps and fiscally conservative principles.
“When Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party,” Paul said during the debate. He wanted the Senate to vote on his amendment to stick to the budget caps, but was denied, and called the package “a bipartisan looting of the treasury.”
Leaders in the Senate had hoped the bipartisan package, which covers the remainder of this fiscal year and next, would end what has been a series of stopgap measures and shutdown threats, including the three-day disruption in January. In that shutdown, Senate Democrats objected to the lack of legislation to protect immigrant “Dreamers” from deportation.
The deal reached this week was intended to draw support from all sides. It boosts both defense and non-defense accounts and unleashes new funding for the opioid crisis, infrastructure investments in roads, bridges and broadband and multi-year funds for community health centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
The package also includes $90 billion in disaster aid for coastal and Western states and Puerto Rico after a damaging hurricane and wildfire season. It lifts the nation’s debt limit to avoid defaulting and allow more borrowing into 2019.
But the accord exposed growing tensions in both parties, pushing forward longstanding disputes over deficit spending and immigration ahead of a midterm election when voter attitudes toward President Trump will loom large over many races.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan did not have enough votes for passage from his GOP majority, as conservatives, including the Freedom Caucus, rejected the deficit spending, leaving him dependent on dozens of Democrats for support.
But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was urging her caucus to withhold support unless the speaker more fully committed to considering bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers, who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
“Ryan needs to make a commitment,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) leaving a caucus meeting before the vote. “Leadership wants a budget deal, but we also want a commitment.”
The Dreamers include nearly 700,000 immigrants who are now working and living here as young adults with temporary permits issued under the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Trump is ending the program.
Ryan had insisted that immigration legislation would be the “next big priority,” but the speaker has also said he is waiting for Trump’s sign-off on any bill, leaving Democrats doubtful he would consider a bipartisan effort. They want him to commit, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did, to a free-wheeling debate.
As part of the budget deal, Congress passed the fifth — and many lawmakers hope, final — stopgap bill to fund the government at current levels through March 23. After that, Congress will need to pass another funding bill, at the new spending levels, to prevent a shutdown and keep the government running.
© 2018 Los Angeles Times
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