Congress approves Trump-backed two-year spending, debt limit deal
- Author: Sonia Alvarado Aug 05, 2019,
Aug 05, 2019, 0:24
While we'd love to be reporting that "Moscow Mitch" is a slick new Russian rapper you've got to keep on your radar, the reality is that the nickname belongs to the loathsome Mitch McConnell for doing all that he can to abet Russian interference in our elections. "Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!".
The Senate gave its "stamp of approval" to the budget deal the White House and Congressional Democrats struck last month, easing the way to pass individual spending bills in September.
For House Republicans, as the minority party, it was easy to take a pass on voting for the legislation.
Yet several Senate Armed Services Committee members voted "no": Republican Sens. Pelosi also made a point of showing she had enough Democratic votes to push it through without their help.
Meanwhile, the statutory limit on Treasury Department borrowing would be suspended until at least July 31, 2021, in an attempt to erase any possibility of a default on debt through the November 2020 USA election.
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The Senate voted 67 to 28 to send the House-passed two-year budget-debt-funding deal to the President, in a rare display of bipartisanship. It lifts strict Obama-era spending caps that would otherwise slash indiscriminately into agency and military budgets, and sets overall spending levels that will make it easier for lawmakers to write the individual appropriations bills needed to keep the government open past October 1, when current agency budgets expire. As part of the pact, Congress also agrees not to introduce any policy "riders" on future spending bills and allows the Trump administration to reprogram funds for a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border. Lawmakers will still have to enact additional legislation to determine how and where the money will be spent.
Supporters of the spending deal said without the plan, the government was coming closer to facing a government shutdown or worse, a default. "While not ideal, this budget agreement will finally allow Congress to work on this year's appropriations bills and invest in the programs that the American people rely on". This is an increase over the already-passed NDAA for 2020, and military spending will now outpace the entire rest of discretionary spending. It establishes a $1.37 trillion budget agreement in the first year, with $738 billion for defense spending and $632 billion in non-defense spending for fiscal year 2020. Interest payments on the federal debt and entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare are legal obligations of the Treasury and do not require specific year-by-year authorization.
Under the bill, defence spending will go up from $716bn this year to $738bn next year, while non-defence spending will rise from $605bn to $632bn. The amount is US$150 billion over the spending caps that were imposed - and since then regularly lifted - by a deal to resolve a 2011 fiscal showdown. Trump has hinted that he will cut spending if he wins reelection, but for now the president and the majority of lawmakers on Capitol Hill seem happy to avoid further fiscal fights. The debt limit suspension ensures the Treasury Department will have enough cash to meet US financial obligations in early September, before lawmakers reconvene after the break.
Despite debt concerns, Republican hawks broadly voted in favor of this bill, because it was a spending increase, and as Sen.
"As our adversaries grow stronger, critical gaps remain in our ability to counter expansion, influence campaigns, and direct acts of violence toward America and our allies around the world", McConnell said on the Senate floor ahead of the vote.