Senate Leadership Close to Long-Term Budget Deal


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday that Republican and Democratic leaders have reached an agreement on a two-year, $400 billion budget deal, less than two days ahead of the deadline of another government shutdown.

The No. 2 U.S. Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said on Sunday he did not expect to have a deal protecting young immigrants before government funding expires this week but that a shutdown over the issue was unlikely.

Republicans will have trouble trying to pass a stop-gap funding bill through the Senate; Democrats want to match increases in non-defense and defense spending for the year.

"Democrats have made our position in these negotiations very clear", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. said Tuesday.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a stopgap bill to increase Defense funding and prevent a government shutdown for six more weeks.

If that fails, the US government would suffer its second shutdown this year, after a partisan standoff over USA immigration policy led to a three-day partial shutdown last month.

Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that oversees immigration policy along with other panels, also said that despite Trump's insistence on building a wall, border law enforcement officials in a recent briefing for senators did not make such a request.

"After months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship".

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McConnell acknowledged Tuesday that there are "several different groups" in the immigration debate on Capitol Hill, some of which are bipartisan and others are Republicans-only.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said with this agreement they are breaking the logjam on a number of priorities for the American people.

Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer of NY said Democrats oppose the bill because they want to address all funding questions at the same time. With near unanimous opposition to the bill by Democrats and with five votes against from Republicans, the bill to continue government operations failed with 51 votes for and 49 against.

Democratic former President Barack Obama enacted the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program to provide temporary protections for Dreamers, allowing them to study and work without fear of deportation.

McConnell told reporters Thursday during a GOP retreat that the Democrats' attempts to use the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to clinch a DACA deal "has clearly been eliminated". President Donald Trump recently revoked the program sparking widespread arguments between Congressional Democrats and Republicans, raising the issue of morality versus security. Once that's in place, the spending committees could get to work writing the actual legislation funding the government through September 30. "Unfortunately last time, we had to have a shutdown. I don't think that's going to happen".

Some House members are wary of the early details of the Senate deal.

Trump has said any immigration deal must include changes to programs for legal immigration that would assess applicants on their skills, rather than their countries of origin or ties to US residents.

However, he has wavered in meetings with Democratic leaders, pushed back on support of Republican leaders, and left Congress with a deadline in March to deal with the Dreamers (illegal immigrants brought to America as children, protected by DACA).