U.S. Senate lawmakers introduce bipartisan two-year budget deal
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senate lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan budget deal which will set government spending framework for fiscal 2018 and 2019 in order to avoid a government shutdown.
The deal would lift caps on defense and nondefense spending, and provide funding for disaster relief, veterans, infrastructure and programs addressing opioid abuse.
"This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the Senate floor on Wednesday.
"No one would suggest it is perfect, but we worked hard to find common ground and remained focused on serving the American people," said McConnell.
U.S. federal government is running on a short-term spending bill which expires on Feb. 8. Lawmakers need to work out a spending measure before Thursday to avoid a government shutdown.
The Senate intends to add the budget deal to a short-term spending measure, which, passed by the House on Tuesday, would fund the government through March 23, in order to avoid a government shutdown on Friday, according to local media. It would provide more weeks for lawmakers to work out details of the budget deal.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said at a daily briefing on Wednesday that the budget deal will also include raising the debt ceiling until March 2019, an effort to avoid a government default.
"We are pleased that Congress has been able to meet our defense spending requirement and come together on a two-year spending bill," said Sanders.
"This bill achieves our top priority, a much-needed increase in funding for our national defense. This still also increases budget caps, ends the sequester, and provides certainty for the next two years," she added.
However, the budget deal still face challenge in the House, because the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi insisted that House Democrats need reassurance from Speaker Paul Ryan to allow an open debate on immigration legislation in exchange of support for the budget deal.
The budget deal will also be challenged by House Republican fiscal hawks who are opposed to any increases for nondefense spending.