Senate leaders announce two-year budget deal, plan moves to House

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January's shutdown came after Democrats sought to have a spending bill include protections for the Dreamers that Trump has rescinded effective in March.

Senators struck a budget deal Wednesday that would provide steep increases in US defense spending over the next two years - up more than 15 percent in 2018 alone, the largest boost in more than a decade and a half.

"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.

"If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown", he said.

The bill came as the result of a 2011 standoff over the U.S. debt ceiling, when Republicans in Congress demanded spending cuts in exchange for giving the Obama administration the needed legal headroom to pay the federal government's obligations to its bondholders.

The budget negotiations, conducted chiefly by the Senate's top leaders, Republican Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Chuck Schumer of NY, have intensified in recent days - and the looming government shutdown at midnight Thursday added urgency to the talks.

The House on Tuesday passed legislation to keep the government running through March 23, marrying the stopgap spending measure with a $659 billion Pentagon spending plan, but the Senate plan would rewrite that measure.

She spoke as liberal activists protested that many Democrats were moving to leave Dreamer immigrants behind in grabbing the budget deal, a longstanding goal for the party.

"Growing the size of government by 13 percent is not what the voters sent us here to do", the caucus said in a tweet. House Democrats opposed the GOP efforts because the bill did not address the Dreamers and funded defense for a full year, while only funding domestic priorities for a few weeks. But at issue is a two-year deal to increase caps on spending set by a failed 2011 budget deal.

Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said if his party's leaders back the deal without addressing immigration first, it would be "a complete betrayal".

Conservative Republicans may oppose the agreement because of the increased domestic spending. Democrats worry that legislation will die in the House where Ryan has said he will only allow a vote on an immigration bill he knows President Trump will sign. And that's already causing a snag in the House. The proposal also includes another $160 billion in "emergency" funds, which don't count against the spending caps, for additional military and domestic needs.

Instead, the Senate could end up amending the House bill and folding in the agreement to lift spending caps.

The bipartisan agreement will reportedly create more funding for veterans, disaster relief, infrastructure, and be used to combat the opioid crisis through prevention programs and providing more law enforcement to communities struggling with drug addiction.

Things could be more challenging in the House.

McConnell has promised Democrats he would allow a free-flowing Senate debate on immigration by February 8 and that he would not try to influence the outcome. The cloture vote on that is expected to be Thursday, at which point they'll strip the House language, and replace it with the Senate language. This comes after CHIP received a six-year funding extension last month following a three-day shutdown.

The deal could get tripped up in Congress by resistance from both parties.

And moderate Democratic senators seeking reelection in states President Trump won in 2016 urged Pelosi to support an impending budget agreement despite concerns with immigration policy.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Tuesday afternoon that Trump was not pushing for the inclusion of immigration policies in the budget accord, something that would upend the sensitive talks. It would provide long overdue disaster relief funding to hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and, most urgently, Puerto Rico.

As minority leader, Pelosi exercised her power to speak uninterrupted on the House floor for more than four hours - a speech that continued late Wednesday morning and focused nearly entirely on Dreamers.

Congressional leaders are looking at combined increases of more than $80 billion for 2018 and 2019 but have been squabbling over the precise figures as Democrats have pushed for matching increases for domestic agencies.

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