Leaders in the United States Senate are rushing to conclude a two-year budget deal ahead of a government shutdown at midnight Thursday.
Republican and Democratic principals are negotiating a package that would include approximately 300 billion dollars in defence and domestic spending over the next 24 months, while also discussing the lifting of the debate ceiling.
President Donald Trump has welcomed a government shutdown, if the deal does not include changes to current immigration laws, particularly border security.
The House of Representatives passed another stopgap measure that extends funding until March 23rd.
But the Senate’s more sweeping measure would fund the government for two years but forgo a deal on immigration for now. Listen to Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“I’m optimistic that very soon we’ll be able to reach an agreement on the immigration issue. There are a lot of different groups as you know, some of them bipartisan, some of them Republicans only discussing the way forward. So, I would simply repeat what I’ve said, once we have established that the government is going to be open, which needs to happen by February the 8th, we will then go forward with an immigration debate and I’m going to structure it in such a way that’s fair to everyone. And in the Senate, on those rare occasions when we have these kind of open debates, whoever get the 60, wins.”
The government was shut down for three days last month when Republicans and Democrats failed to reach a deal on providing legal status to undocumented immigrants brought into the country illegally as children – a matter now separated from any potential budget deal.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says, “I am I’m very pleased to report, my meeting with leader McConnell went very well. We’re making real progress on a spending deal that would increase the caps for both military and middle class priorities on the domestic side that Democrats have been fighting for.”
President Trump earlier explained under which conditions he’d welcome a shutdown.
“So we have to strengthen our borders, not by a little bit, but by a lot. We are so far behind that time. And by the way, the world is laughing at us, because they can’t believe these policies. They don’t have it. I could name 15 of them right now. No other country in the world has what we have. And we’re going to get it stopped. And if we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety and — unrelated but still related — they don’t want to take care of our military, and then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown.”
Any Senate deal could face resistance in the more conservative House, with some Republicans indicating they will need Democratic support for it to pass the lower chamber.
While it’s appearing less likely that any budget deal will be tied to specifics on immigration reform, be that in terms of increased border security, funding for a possible wall along the border with Mexico or a measure to protect young immigrants known as “dreamers” from deportation.
That appears increasingly to be a separate fight with a deadline for Congress to protect dreamers expiring on March 5th.