McConnell Announces $296B-Plus Spending Compromise; Schumer Agrees, 'Budget Deal Is a Win'

By Susan Jones | February 8, 2018 | 8:32 AM EST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Photo: C-SPAN screen grab)

(CNSNews.com) - "I'm pleased to announce that our bipartisan bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday.

He thanked Senate Minority Leader chuck Schumer for their "productive discussions."

 



Schumer, speaking after McConnell, said no one would suggest the deal is "perfect," but he said it's one both sides can be proud of.

The deal will grow the size of government by 13 percent, something the conservative House Freedom Caucus roundly rejected.

The agreement ends the sequester caps on both military and discretionary spending.

The Defense Department will get an additional $80 billion this year and $85 billion next year, while domestic discretionary spending -- on everything from opioid addiction to disaster relief will increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year.

That's a total spending increase of $296 billion over two years, plus some extras thrown in for disaster relief and other projects.

The fiscally conservative Club for Growth opposes the deal, noting, "Nowhere in this deal are the $54 billion in spending cuts outlined in President Trump’s budget. Instead, the big government freight train is running out of control."

President Trump is nevertheless happy about the deal: "The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military," the president tweeted on Thursday morning. "It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!"

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) (Photo: C-SPAN screen grab)

Sen. Schumer said the budget deal doesn't have everything the Democrats or the Republicans want, "but it has a great deal of what the American people want."

So here's what they're getting, according to Schumer:

Alongside the $165 billion two-year increase in defense spending, the budget deal lifts domestic spending by $131 billion over two years.

Then there's $90 billion more in disaster relief for places hit by 2017 hurricanes.

And Schumer said there's $57 billion in additional funding, including;

-- $6 billion to fight opioid and mental health crises;

-- $5.8 billion for Childcare development block grants;

-- $4 billion to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics;

-- $2 billion for "critical" research at the National Institutes of Health;

-- $20 billion to augment existing infrastructure programs, including surface transportation, rural water and wastewater, rural broadband and energy infrastructure.

-- $4 billion for college affordability, including programs that help teachers, police and firefighters.

-- more funding for commuity health centers;

-- CHIP will be extended for an additional four years, on top of the six years already approved;

-- Seniors caught in Medicare Part D Donut hole will have their coverage gaps eased.

Democrats also secured the promise of legislation to shore up the pensions of union workers who are looking at cuts.

Schumer said, "At the end of the day, I believe we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves, but both sides can be proud of. That's compromise, that's governing, that's what we should be doing more of in this body. And it is my sincere hope that the Republican leader and I will continue to work together in this way to get things done for the American people."

Schumer said it's now time to finish the job, first by passing the budget into law and then appropriating the money for the various programs.

"This budget deal will be the best thing we've done for our economy, our military, our middle class for a long time," he said.

There is no DACA fix in the deal setting out spending targets, and it extends the debt ceiling to March 2019, beyond the midterm elections.


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