Senate Passes Massive Two-Year Budget Deal

The Senate passed a two-year bipartisan budget deal Thursday, sending it to President Donald Trump’s desk for signing, thus avoiding the threat of a debt crisis and opening the path to funding the government past September 30.

The measure passed the chamber in a 67-28 vote, with a majority of Senate Republicans supporting it. For the past few days, President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had been pushing senators to gain their support on the deal negotiated by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

It raises spending caps by $320 million and the U.S. borrowing authority for two years and clears the path for funding the government without the political games that last resulted in a 35-day government shutdown.

“This is the agreement the administration has negotiated. This is the deal the House has passed. This is the deal President Trump is waiting [for] and eager to sign into law. This is the deal that every member of this body should support when we vote later this morning,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Thursday morning.

The majority leader had lobbied to get other GOP senators to support the measure, particularly after most of the House Republicans opposed it. Among those who eventually stood behind the bill were Senators Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee and Rand Paul.

Republican proponents of the measure said the increased military spending was worth the increase in domestic spending that Democrats had pushed for, adding that the budget deal is considerably better than the alternatives of stopgap bills or automatic budget cuts.

“We’re going to avoid this sort of nonsense we’ve had in the past with shutdowns and brief continuing resolutions,” said Senator Roger Wicker, who has been advocating for his colleagues to support the legislation.

The majority of Senate Democrats supported the budget deal, but some, like Senator Joe Manchin, expressed concerns about the measure’s “long-term fiscal responsibility.”

“I’m having a hard time with that. I really am. There’s a lot of things that help the area. I sure don’t want a shutdown, that’s for sure,” Manchin said.

ABC News writes that Paul tried unsuccessfully to introduce an amendment to the budget deal with a provision to cut and cap spending, introducing at the same time a constitutional amendment to balance the budget over 10 years.

“Today is the final nail in the coffin. The Tea Party is no more. The budget monstrosity, the deal, the abomination,” Paul said, “will have ‘no restraints’ on spending. We should not spend money we don’t have…I will vote against this budget deal.”

The senator also called the budget deal the “most fiscally irresponsible thing we’ve done in the history of the United States.”

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