Trump administration praises Senate budget deal

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WASHINGTON (AP) Developments on Wednesday, Feb. 7, about Congress and spending legislation (all times Eastern Standard Time).

  • 1:50 p.m.

Trump administration officials praised a Senate budget agreement, saying it met the president’s priorities on defense spending and providing a two-year budget plan.

Presidential spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the deal would provide “certainty” for the next two years and achieve a “much needed” increase in funding for the national defense. The deal was also praised by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Sanders said it would move the the administration away from “crisis to crisis budgeting.”

The Senate agreement on the two-year, nearly $400 billion budget deal would provide military and domestic programs with huge spending increases. It would contain almost $300 billion above current limits on defense and domestic accounts.

  • 1:12 p.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., celebrated the budget agreement as providing needed funding for health, drug abuse, and social service programs.

But Schumer made little mention about what isn’t coming with the agreement — a plan to protect the “Dreamer” immigrants.

He dropped his push to use the budget talks to extract concessions on immigration from Republicans, leaving aside threats to shut down the government over the issue.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Schumer focused on the new agreement as a rare moment of bipartisanship and cooperation. He called it “the best thing we’ve done” for the middle class and the economy.

“We have reached the budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of,” Schumer said.

Schumer said he hoped House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., will do what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,R-Ky., has promised to do and hold a “fair and open process” to debate a measure to protect young “Dreamer” immigrants.

  • 12:55 p.m.

McConnell ignored a request by officials to use President Donald Trump’s immigration proposal to begin Senate debate on the issue.

Instead, McConnell said the initial measure before lawmakers would be a bill that doesn’t address the politically charged subject. He said the two parties will then alternate offering immigration plans in a battle that has no clear outcome.

McConnell said he was following through on his promise for a debate that “will be fair to all sides.”

Trump’s proposal would create a path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children. It would also provide money for his border wall and curb legal immigration.

  • 12:50 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader McConnell announced the budget deal and was joined on the Senate floor by House Minority Leader Schumer.

McConnell said the measure would rewrite existing defense limits that have “hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security.”

The bill, aides said, also contains almost $90 billion in overdue disaster aid and an increase in the government borrowing cap that would prevent a first-ever U.S. government default on its obligations.

  • 10:30 a.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she and many fellow Democrats will oppose any bipartisan budget deal unless Republicans allowed the chamber to vote on legislation protecting immigrants.

But Pelosi said on the House floor that because House Speaker Ryan has yet to promise an immigration vote, the emerging budget pact “does not have my support, nor does it have the support of a large number of members of our caucus.”

  • 9:00 a.m.

A group of hard-right House conservatives opposed the big budget deal emerging in Congress, but the group’s leader said he expected it to pass anyway because of increases in defense and other spending that would appeal to many lawmakers.

Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., said his Freedom Caucus would fight it, but “I’m afraid the numbers will get so high and the debt ceiling will get added and it will be a Christmas tree of spending — that a lot of votes will be bought.”

Meadows told MSNBC a bipartisan deal would draw “120 or 140 Democrats and maybe about the same on Republicans sending this to the president’s desk.”

The Freedom Caucus includes roughly three dozen Republican conservatives opposed to spending that balloons the federal deficit.

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