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Senate Leaders Strike Budget Deal

Agreement between McConnell and Schumer may not yet have Pelosi support

The Senate’s leaders have reached an agreement on a longer-term budget agreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The Senate’s leaders have reached an agreement on a longer-term budget agreement. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Senate leaders announced Wednesday the contours of a bipartisan deal to raise defense and nondefense spending by nearly $300 billion over the next two years.

The agreement, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced on the chamber floor, would raise defense spending by $80 billion in the current fiscal year and more next year, and nondefense spending by $63 billion in fiscal 2018 and $68 billion in fiscal 2019.

“First and foremost, this bipartisan agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security,” McConnell said. “Secretary Mattis said that, quote, ‘no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration.’”

“We haven’t asked our men and women in uniform to do less for our country. We have just forced them to make do with less than they need,” he said. “This agreement changes that.”

Watch: McConnell, Schumer Announce They’ve Reached Budget Agreement

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McConnell also highlighted the funding for fighting opioid abuse and disaster aid, along with assurances on transportation and infrastructure, which he called a bipartisan priority.

The package would extend a reauthorization of a popular children’s health insurance program for ten years, four years longer than the reauthorization included in the prior CR.

The package includes additional funding for disaster relief.

The Senate is expected to pass the measure and send it to the House before government funding expires at the end of Thursday, which is the expiration of the current continuing resolution that Congress passed in January.

House conservatives are expected to reject the proposal, which means Democratic support will be necessary for it to advance.

Among the victories claimed by Senate Democrats will be a new joint select committee charged with developing legislation by the end of calendar year 2018 that would address the pension crisis affecting retired mine workers, those in the Central States Fund and elsewhere.

That select committee will operate alongside another new joint select committee that would be tasked with drafting overhauls to the beleaguered budget process.

Democrats also cited as a win an agreement for $6 billion over two years to address the scourge of opioid abuse, along with another $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health over the same period.

The measure would reauthorize over $7 billion in funding over two years for community health centers and delay cuts to federal payments to hospitals that largely serve Medicaid enrollees.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she will not support the package until Speaker Paul D. Ryan agrees on a deal to bring an immigration bill to the floor.

Watch: Pelosi Holds House Floor Seeking DACA Commitment From Ryan

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“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House. Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” the California Democrat said in a statement.

Pelosi gave a stem-winding speech on the House floor about the importance of the immigration issue and the need to provide legal status for undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, often referred to as “Dreamers.”

McConnell previously promised Senate Democrats that he would bring up a bill on the chamber floor to address the pending expiration of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program if the government stays open past Feb. 8.

Ryan has said he will not bring a DACA bill to the House floor if it does not have President Donald Trump’s backing. A spokesman for Pelosi made clear Wednesday morning that Ryan’s commitments were insufficient to win the minority leader’s support.

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