Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Melba Underwood

US Congress stumbles into government shutdown, budget deal stalled

US Congress stumbles into government shutdown, budget deal stalled

With the House approval and President Donald Trump's expected signature, the government will reopen before many Americans knew it had closed, with a deal that includes about $300 billion in additional funds over two years for military and non-military programmes.

The higher defense spending should allow President Donald Trump to make good on a campaign promise for a USA military build-up.

Our Military will now be stronger than ever before.

On Tuesday night, the House passed a six-week spending bill that would boost military funding by $65 billion for the rest of the fiscal year.

"We need a 21st century MERIT-BASED immigration system", Trump wrote on Twitter on Tuesday.

None of the added spending will be offset by budget savings elsewhere or revenue increases, relying instead on government borrowing. The two-year pact, which also continues the government's authority to borrow money, postpones any possible federal default or likely shutdowns until after the November elections.

But the dramatics in Congress spoke volumes about the political gridlock that defines Washington.

"This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said on the Senate floor.

Once known as the party of fiscal conservatives, the Republicans and Trump are now quickly expanding the USA budget deficit and its $20 trillion national debt.

"I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits", the Kentucky senator said.

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'Definition of hypocrisy' Moving legislation swiftly through the upper chamber of Congress requires consent by all 100 members, but Paul objected.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on February 8 opposed a bipartisan budget deal and delayed a vote on the measure in the Senate, calling the GOP "complicit in the deficits".

Under Trump, Republicans who criticized the influence of high-spending donors in politics have gone silent as a billionaire president throws parties at his country club with tickets starting at $100,000.

The senate will take up the bill on Wednesday.

When combined with the nearly $300 billion in new spending for defense and non-defense accounts, the hurricane aid brought the package to nearly $400 billion.

Exact spending would be left to the appropriations committees but included in the funding is $10 billion to invest in infrastructure, $2.9 billion for child care and $3 billion to combat opioid and substance abuse, CNN reported.

Fiscal conservatives in the lower chamber may join with Paul in balking at adding billions of dollars to the national debt two months after passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut package.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and others in her party had opposed Friday's bill because Republican House leaders would not guarantee her a debate later on bipartisan steps to protect about 700,000 "Dreamer" immigrants from deportation. They say Nunes' memo is designed as a distraction from the probe, which is looking into whether Trump's campaign was in any way connected to the Russian interference.

"We're totally flexible", House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley said.

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