Trump signs budget bill, ending overnight shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell and House Speaker Paul Ryan

Senate Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell and House Speaker Paul Ryan speaking during last week’s Republican retreat in West Virginia. C-SPAN

The US House of Representatives has joined the Senate in approving a bill to end an overnight federal shutdown, sparing Republicans further embarrassment and averting serious interruption of the Government's business.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) said, "This agreement will also allow us to step off this carousel of short-term funding bills that do nothing but hurt our military and stymie our ability to be able to focus on other important agenda items". The government is now operating on its fourth continuing resolution of the fiscal year, and it expires on Thursday at midnight.

The massive budget deal, which includes a stopgap temporary measure to prevent a government shutdown, includes $300 billion for the military.

Senate leaders in the USA have reportedly reached a two-year budget agreement to resolve a months-long impasse over spending levels.

"Our middle class has suffered from a Congress that imposed a needless austerity on itself, limiting investment in jobs and education, infrastructure, scientific research, and more", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on Thursday.

The accord was announced by Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of NY.

Democrats on the left, especially members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, were frustrated to see a budget deal negotiated that resolved virtually every Democratic priority except a resolution for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a policy that protected young undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children that President Donald Trump made a decision to terminate in September.

"I'd love to see a shutdown if we can't get this stuff taken care of", he said in reference to immigration.

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Hours before the House vote, the Senate cleared the legislation on a vote of 71 to 28, with wide bipartisan support.

"Senator Schumer and I had a good meeting this morning about a caps deal and the other deals we've been discussing for some months now", McConnell said after the Senate caucus lunches.

That budget agreement would eliminate the budget caps - set in 2011 to reduce the federal deficit - paving the way for Congress to increase defense spending by $165 billion and hike domestic spending by $131 billion over the next two years.

The government shutdown last month came largely as a result of Senate Democrats' refusal to vote for a funding bill that did not contain a DACA solution.

The plan would suspend the federal debt ceiling until March 1, 2019, and would provide nearly US$90 billion in hurricane and wildfire disaster aid. House conservatives, mainly the House Freedom Caucus and Republican Study Committee, agreed with Paul.

Passage of the measure came over the opposition of Democratic leaders who demanded the promise of a vote to protect "Dreamer" immigrants brought to the country illegally as children.

A bipartisan deal to keep the government funded past midnight hit a major snag Thursday, as a last-minute maneuver in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul to protest spending hikes raised the specter of another shutdown. "Please, please, please give us that opportunity", Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA) said. Pelosi filibustered House business for over eight hours with a marathon floor speech demanding a vote on DACA.

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