US Senate approves budget deal

Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled a bipartisan budget deal on the Senate floor on Wednesday that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years as well as include a hike

Majority Leader Mitch Mc Connell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled a bipartisan budget deal on the Senate floor on Wednesday that would boost military and non-defense spending by $300 billion over the next two years as well as include a hike

Congress is aiming to prevent a government shutdown on Friday by passing a new spending bill by Thursday at midnight.

The bill now goes to the president's desk, where he is expected to sign it and officially end the shutdown later Friday morning.

The budget bill raises military and domestic spending by nearly $300 billion U.S. over the next two years.

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

And liberal stalwarts including top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi were also in revolt because the deal does nothing to protect immigrants known as "Dreamers", who were brought to the United States illegally as children, from deportation.

"A fifth CR, while one party controls all levels of government, shows the Republicans' inability to govern", said House Democrat Nita Lowey, referring to continuing resolutions that keep the government funded at the same level as the previous year.

The Senate vote was delayed until past midnight by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul - who spoke passionately for hours on the Senate floor Thursday evening as he tried to force a vote on an amendment that would effectively undermine the budget deal.

Before the Senate voted, however, Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget, told federal agencies that non-essential government operations should close.

Almost $300 billion in new spending that is included in the bill approved on Friday will mean the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2019, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a private fiscal policy watchdog group in Washington.

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Eleven Democrats and independent Bernie Sanders of Vermont also voted no.

Included in the White House's budget will be the new tax reform bill and "other priorities" from the administration.

USA media report that the lawmakers are aiming to get the bill passed both by the Senate and the House by Friday morning.

Although the measure doesn't address DACA, the Senate pledged to deal with the fate of the program's "Dreamers" next week. Rand Paul from Kentucky had filibustered the vote on Thursday. Other Democrats followed suit.

Last month, the government shut down for three days in a dispute over undocumented immigrants brought to the country as kids, reopening when Senate Democrats accepted assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he would hold a floor debate on immigration this month.

Tillis said Paul shouldn't have sought to derail the budget unless he had convinced "51 or 60 senators that your idea is good enough to support". Protection for the Dreamers under former President Barack Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, expires next month.

Beyond $300 billion worth of increases for the military and domestic programs, 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. "What you are seeing is recklessness being passed off as bipartisanship". We must pass this budget agreement first, though, so that we can get onto that.

But Pelosi said Ryan's words fell short, accusing him of not having "the courage to lift the shadow of fear from the lives of" Dreamers who face the prospect of deportation.

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