Senate Leaders Reach Budget Deal After Months of Government Shutdown Threats

Mark Reinstein  Corbis via Getty Images Exterior view of the US Capitol building Washington DC Jan. 18 2017

But Nancy Pelosi, the House of Representatives' Democratic leader, said she would not support such a deal, aimed at lifting some limits on government spending for two years, unless Republican Speaker Paul Ryan promised to advance legislation on immigration.

The almost $400 billion deal does not include Trump's $25 billion request for a wall on the southern USA border, though "it also doesn't rule out" the financing, a top Republican Senate aide told Newsmax.

According to congressional sources briefed on the deal, the plan eliminates mandatory spending cuts for two years and increases Pentagon spending by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. "It also ensures funding for our other critical priorities, including rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure, tackling the opioids epidemic and taking care of our great veterans", Sanders said.

"This budget deal is a genuine breakthrough", said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), adding that it consigns the "arbitrary. sequester caps to the ash heap of history".

Pelosi said she opposed that the spending deal because it doesn't include a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, grappled with long-term changes to the budget process at a hearing yesterday held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management.

Senate leaders said they don't want to bring the government to the brink of a shutdown and see little risk that it would occur.

Unfortunately for the Senate leaders, the deal faces opposition in the House. But because the agreement gives both parties what they wanted most, the deficit impact appears to be of little concern. That means Ryan will need Democratic votes to get it across the finish line.

"I think everybody's realistic enough to understand that - but remember we'll have every Democrat in the Senate on record", Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne, a defense hawk, said.

If a budget deal is reached this week, the spending committees could get to work writing the actual legislation funding the government through September 30 - setting up another must-pass bill in March.

A budget agreement would nearly certainly mean that many Democrats would support it, thereby guaranteeing that there wouldn't be another shutdown.

The House passed a short-term spending bill that would fund the government for just another six weeks on Tuesday night that contained increases for the military.

Earlier in the day, Senate leaders from both parties suggested that a budget deal to lift spending caps on the military and domestic programs could be imminent. "I would be very surprised if more than a couple of the Freedom Caucus members would vote yes", Meadows said.

It's not yet clear how many House Democrats might be needed and Democratic leaders have yet to offer their support.

The temporary funding measure would keep the government running through March 23 and also reauthorize for funding for community health centers that enjoy widespread bipartisan support.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., similarly dismissed Trump's threat.

Senate Democrats were expected to balk at the House Bill's inclusion of an increase in Pentagon funding through Sept 30, the end of the current fiscal year, but exclusion of any increase in non-defence spending.

The negotiations have been prompted due to spending caps put into place under a 2011 law, the Budget Control Act, that was meant to enforce fiscal discipline in the Capitol.

At this point, Ryan has not signaled he is considering giving that to House Democrats.