WASHINGTON — Leaders in the U.S. Senate announced Wednesday they have agreed on a deal to increase the federal debt limit and boost investments in military and domestic programs, including efforts to address the opioid epidemic.

The two-year deal comes a day before the federal government is set to shutdown, which would be the second time this year if lawmakers do not approve the agreement. The proposal does not include immigration policy or a measure regarding young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Democrats opposed a continuing resolution on Jan. 19 because of the lack of a measure protecting “dreamers,” individuals who were brought to the country illegally as children and have temporary protection.

“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a press release. “It shows that bipartisanship still lives in Washington and that both parties can work together to address the issues affecting our nation.”

The $300 billion agreement would increase defense funding by $80 million in the current fiscal year and $85 billion in the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Spending for non-defense programs would increase $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year.

In addition, it would set aside $6 billion for funding opioid and mental health programs, including prevention and treatment initiatives.

The deal would also provide $4 billion for investing in veterans facilities, $20 billion for infrastructure investments and around $90 billion for communities affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters over the past year.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “No one would suggest it is perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people.”

While the agreement does not include immigration, McConnell said an upcoming debate on legislation would include an amendment process to “ensure a level playing field” between lawmakers.

“While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcomes, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides,” he said on the Senate floor.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke on the House floor for eight hours and seven minutes Wednesday — a record for the longest continuous speech in the chamber’s history — against the agreement because of the lack of action to protect “Dreamers.”

“Without a commitment from Speaker (Paul) Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” she said in a statement,

Ryan said he supports the agreement, adding the proposal includes “enormous strides” for the country’s defense system.

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., came out in favor of the deal, making mention of his pleasure seeing a bipartisan agreement.

“I have been relentlessly pressuring Congressional leadership to make sure that West Virginia gets the funding it needs to end the opioid epidemic and invest in high-speed internet and broadband access throughout our state, and I’m glad this funding will be included in the final budget deal,” he said.

The House of Representatives voted Tuesday for a continuing resolution to keep the government open through March 23. Republican Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Evan Jenkins voted in favor of the bill. Jenkins said in a press release he is reviewing the latest proposal.

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

bubble graphic

bubble graphic
Comments