Senate announces bipartisan budget breakthrough

Senate announces bipartisan budget breakthrough
Leaders of both parties in the US Senate have agreed on a two-year budget proposal that would remove the threat of government shutdowns. The compromise removes spending caps on both military and domestic programs.

The deal eliminates the civilian and military sequester for two years, increasing the Pentagon funding by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion for the fiscal year 2018, NPR reported citing congressional sources.

“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.”

“No one would suggest it's perfect but we worked hard to find common ground,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), introducing the deal on the floor. He added the bill will have an amendment process that’s “fair to all sides.”

In addition to long-term military funding, the bill would allocate $131 billion to civilian programs, including $20 billion for infrastructure programs such as rural broadband, clean water, and roads. The bill also raises the debt limit and extends funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for 10 years instead of the current six. It does not, however, include any immigration provisions, which the Democrats have been clamoring for.

Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) has been holding a marathon speech on Wednesday, demanding legal status for immigrants brought into the US illegally as children. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said he was willing to take up a bill proposed by the White House, offering amnesty for 1.8 million illegal immigrants in exchange for border wall funding and immigration reforms. Democrats have rejected the proposal as “racist.”

On Tuesday, the House voted on a continuing resolution funding the government through March 23. The measure was not expected to get support in the Senate, where the Republican majority needs at least nine Democrats to cross the aisle to reach the required 60 votes.

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