Both the House and Senate announced Wednesday that they’d reached a historic, bipartisan agreement on the budget — and its to spend more of Americans’ money.
A lot more.
Three hundred billion more.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the official announcements right after noon, Washington D.C., time, claiming that Congress had reached a “bipartisan, bicameral” deal to keep the government functioning until at least 2020. It’s the first such long-term deal in several years.
McConnell was quick to pat himself and his colleagues on the back. “This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House. No one would suggest it was perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people,” he said as he announced the agreement on the Senate floor.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) joined in the chorus of accolades. “While President Trump threatens shutdowns and stalemates, congressional leaders have done the hard work of finding compromise and consensus,” he said, with a nod to his newest best friend, McConnell.
Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was less effusive, failing to acknowledge the agreement after spending most of the morning threatening the White House with a filibuster in the House if a compromise on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act (DACA) wasn’t reached at the same time as the budget bill hit the floor.
That did not happen.
But although legislators cheer their ability to work together to ink a short-term budget plan without murdering each other in cold blood in the Capitol rotunda, for those who don’t serve in Congress, there’s nothing much to be happy about in the bill.
According to Roll Call, the bill eliminates most spending caps imposed during the sequestration battle years ago, thereby rolling back any remaining restrictions on spending placed on both military and discretionary spending. Instead, the bill grows government spending by a staggering $300 billion over the next two years.
If such an expansion sounds . . . well . . . insane . . . both parties are to thank. In return for an increase of $80 billion per year in defense spending, Republicans agreed to $70 billion per year in increased non-defense spending. The latter includes massive new programs to fight opioid abuse, improve transportation and infrastructure, and additional funding for disaster relief projects already receiving money under emergency funding bills passed over the summer.
There’s even a new panel created (and funded) under the bill to overhaul the budget process itself, presumably to make these dramatic spending increases less public.