The Senate has reached a two year budget deal. It includes:
The deal would raise the spending caps by about $300 billion over two years, according to a congressional aide. The limit on military and other defense spending would be increased by $80 billion in the current fiscal year and $85 billion in the next year, which begins Oct. 1, the aide said. The limit on nondefense spending would increase by $63 billion this year and $68 billion next year.
The deal also includes increased funding for dealing with the opioid crisis, disaster relief, extends CHIP coverage out another four years in addition to the six year funding in the last CR for a total of ten years of funding, and a debt limit increase. It is also includes two years of funding for community health centers, as well as funding for child care. If this passes the House and is signed into law, the Congressional appropriators will have six weeks to appropriate against this years increased funding caps.* The deal does not include a DACA fix. This will, provided the government actually stays open past late Thursday night/early Friday morning, be dealt with under a separate process beginning in the Senate next week.
The Senate appears to be trying to jam the House with this. As in: we passed this, now it is up to you. The Senate didn’t even consider bringing up the narrow deal that the House had passed yesterday. As a result, the House side is where this is going to be much harder to pass. Speaker Ryan will have a difficult time holding his caucus together to pass the Senate bill. The Freedom Caucus members will all vote no. A significant chunk of the Republican Study Group members are likely to vote no as well. And they’ll do so under the war cry of exploding budget deficits, seemingly unaware of the $1.5 trillion increase in the deficit that is the result of the GOP only, partisan tax cut bill passed in December 2017. This means that Speaker Ryan either has to abandon the Hastert Rule and ask Congresswoman Pelosi for the votes to pass this or he maintains obeisance to the Hastert Rule and refuses to bring this to a vote. If it is the former, this gives Congresswoman Pelosi leverage to extract a promise to bring up a clean bill to resolve the problem created when the President rescinded the DACA executive order; similar to what Senator Schumer negotiated in the Senate. If it is the latter, then the government will likely shutdown tomorrow night.
All the action, stress, and flop sweat will now be in the House of Representative. At this point the President is largely irrelevant until such time as he either has to sign or veto a budget bill. Whether we reach that point is now all on Speaker Ryan. Senators McConnell and Schumer have left him holding the hand grenade and they’ve handed Congresswoman Pelosi the pin.
* Just a quick note: the DOD, the Services, and their subordinate commands, offices, departments, and bureaus function under what is known as the 80/20 Rule. This means that 80% of their annual budgets must be spent before the end of the 3rd quarter of the fiscal year. Even if this passes and the appropriators work as efficiently as possible, it is going to be very hard for the DOD and the Services to comply with the 80/20 Rule. And that is going to make for a very uncomfortable spring, summer, and fall for the US military.