Senate Reaches Bipartisan Deal to Keep the Government Open By Spending More Money On Everything

Both parties agree on more spending and bigger deficits.


Ron Sachs/SIPA/Newscom

After weeks of negotiation, Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have reached the outlines of a spending deal that would avert a government shutdown.

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the deal "the first real sprout of bipartisanship," and said he hoped it would "break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled Congress." Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber's top Republican, called the agreement a "significant bipartisan step forward" and suggested that it could help "make 2018 a year of significant achievement for Congress."

So how did the two sides finally come together? They decided to spend more—on everything. And they'll worry about paying for it later (or maybe not at all).

The Senate bill would lift current federal spending limits by about $315 billion through 2019, according to The Washington Post. The bill also includes $90 billion in disaster aid funding, making for a total of roughly $400 billion in spending.

The deal placates Republican defense hawks by boosting spending for the military, lifting the spending cap put in place by the 2013 sequester agreement by $80 billion this year and $85 billion next year.

The deal pairs the boost in defense spending with a roughly equal increase in domestic spending. On the homefront, the plan includes $10 billion for infrastructure spending, as well as billions for federal health initiatives, including $6 billion to respond to the opioid crisis, $7 billion for community health centers, and a decade-long extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), up from the six-year extension Congress passed earlier this year.

All this additional spending will, of course, significantly increase the budget deficit.

The deal follows a House vote yesterday that passed a separate spending bill. But that bill was thought to be largely dead on arrival since the Senate would negotiate its own deal, which the House would eventually accept.

For the moment, however, it is not entirely clear whether the House will accept the deal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said as the deal as announced that she and many fellow Democrats would oppose the deal unless there is a separate vote on immigration legislation. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has declined to make any commitment to holding an immigration vote.

Some House Republicans, meanwhile, have already objected to the bill on the grounds that it spends way too much money.

Amash is likely to be relatively lonely in his objections to the bill, however. In the end, this agreement, or something similar, will probably become law with plenty of Republican support.

Republican leadership in Congress spent the better part of the Obama years warning that mounting debt posed a dire threat to the nation's future. But now, with control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, it looks likely that the GOP's two most signifcant legislative achievements will be a tax reform law that raises the deficit by $1.5 trillion and a spending deal that increases the federal tab by hundreds of billions more.