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McConnell: Worked to find common ground on deal

09 February 2018, 05:21 | Myrtle Vega

McConnell: Worked to find common ground on deal

Rand Paul

"I think we're on the way to getting an agreement, and getting it very soon", Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday after lunch with GOP members.

"We're hopeful that we'll go ahead and attach those numbers to this, fund the military, not hold it hostage and allow it to come back and have a fairly easy bipartisan vote here in the House", Mark Meadows, the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said.

"If we don't change it, let's have a shutdown", Trump said at a White House session with law enforcement officials and Republican lawmakers.

A bipartisan budget deal that would fund several healthcare programs has support from Senate leadership, but House Democrats looking to secure a vote on immigration reform are poised to withhold votes for the funding package.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the deal with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor, which would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years as well as add more than $80 billion in disaster relief.

The deal also provides nearly $90bn for disaster relief efforts in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, which have been hard-hit by hurricanes in the a year ago. 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.

"After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough", Schumer said on the Senate floor.

The Democratic leader has dropped his push to use the budget talks to extract concessions on immigration from Republicans, leaving aside threats to shut down the government over the issue.

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The bill removes automatic spending cuts - known as sequestration caps - for both defense and nondefense programs.

McConnell and Schumer said the deal was the product of extensive negotiations between both parties and the White House, which reacted positively to developments on Capitol Hill.

The issue of extending DACA and funding the president's southern border wall would still be up for debate, with a larger debate expected to continue until a deal is reached that both sides can work with, though the demands of the president still hover over the head of Congress.

In a statement, he also said the agreement includes investments in infrastructure and resources to combat the opioid crisis, as well as almost $90 billion in disaster relief for hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico, Florida, Texas and the US Virgin Islands.

Congressional Democrats have canceled their annual retreat as they remain in Washington this week to be available for votes on a possible spending plan.

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California opposes this plan.

The House passed a stop-gap measure Tuesday evening that would keep the government funded through March 23, fully fund the Pentagon for a year and provide two years of funding for community health centers.

The standoff is continuing this week, with President Donald Trump and conservative Republicans so far unable to reach a deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to America as children who will be at risk of deportation next month.



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