House Approves Bipartisan Deal on Budget and Debt Limit

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives on Thursday passed a $2.7 trillion budget agreement that raises caps on discretionary spending over the next two years and lifts the limit on how much debt the federal government can take on.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and the Democratic Caucus hold an event on the House steps Thursday to highlight their agenda since taking control of the chamber in the 2018 election. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The agreement, which passed the House 284-149 on Thursday afternoon, was a compromise between the Trump administration and Republican and Democratic leadership in Congress. After weeks of negotiations, the leaders announced earlier this week that they had struck a deal just ahead of a month-long congressional recess.

The agreement lifts the cap on total spending as compared to current levels by $324 billion by 2021, with a slightly larger increase for nondefense than for defense spending. Defense spending goes to $738 billion in 2020, with nondefense spending going to $632 billion in the same year.

By lifting the debt limit until 2021, the agreement pushes off the threat of the U.S. defaulting on its debt obligations, which the Treasury Department warned was a possibility without a deal by the end of the summer.

The deal also averts mandatory spending cuts known as sequestration and smoothes the path towards passing the spending bills necessary to fund the government and avoid another shutdown.

“This is about finally moving us past the threat of sequestration, it’s about upholding the full faith and credit of the United States and it’s about providing much-needed certainty to our communities and for our economy,” Representative John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who chairs the House Budget Committee, said on the House floor Thursday.

The Senate is expected to take up the legislation next week before it leaves for its own month-long break.

Conservative Republicans objected to the agreement, saying it will contribute to the rapidly increasing debt.

“We should come together, find bipartisan ways to cut spending, balance our budget and get our crumbling fiscal house on a sustainable foundation for the future,” three members of the House Freedom Caucus wrote Thursday in an opinion piece in USA Today. “At the bare minimum we should freeze spending and prevent America’s budget deficits from skyrocketing further out of control – bankrupting our children and grandchildren.”

President Donald Trump tried to rally House Republicans around the bill in a tweet Thursday morning, but the bill only mustered roughly two-thirds of the GOP caucus on Thursday afternoon.

“House Republicans should support the TWO YEAR BUDGET AGREEMENT which greatly helps our military and our vets,” Trump tweeted. “I am totally with you!”

To illustrate his displeasure with the agreement, after the bill passed, Representative Thomas Massie, R-Ky., forced a vote that would have retroactively changed the title of the legislation to “A Bill to Kick The Can Down The Road and For Other Purposes.”

%d bloggers like this: