WASHINGTON (AP) - Lawmakers pushed to enact a massive budget deal Thursday along with a stopgap temporary measure to prevent a government shutdown at midnight. GOP leaders tried to shore up support among conservatives for a plan that would shower the Pentagon with the billions they favor but also balloon the deficits they despise.
“It’s going to need bipartisan support. We are going to deliver our share of support,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt. “Our members who are focused on the military are very happy where we landed with that.”
The measure was a triumph for Republican allies of the Pentagon and for Democrats seeking more spending on infrastructure and fighting opioid abuse.
But it represented a bitter defeat for many liberal Democrats who sought to use the party’s leverage on the budget to resolve the plight of immigrant “Dreamers” who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children. The deal does not address immigration. And some tea party Republicans shredded the measure as a budget-buster.
Beyond the $300 billion figure for the military, the agreement adds $89 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, a politically charged increase in the government’s borrowing cap and a grab bag of health and tax provisions. Cotton growers and dairy farmers would get relief courtesy of the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Appropriations Committee, while popular funding for community health centers would be extended for two years, among myriad health provisions.
“I love bipartisanship, as you know,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “But the problem is the only time we discover bipartisanship is when we spend more money.”