Trump signs new budget deal, ending brief government shutdown

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   U.S. President Donald Trump signed a new two-year budget deal this morning, ending a government shutdown that began at midnight.
   The two-year Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (H.R. 1892) will increase caps on discretionary federal spending by $296 billion, including $165 billion for the Department of Defense, plus provide an additional $90 billion in disaster relief funds.
   The spending plan was passed in the Senate by a vote of 71-28 before being passed by the House of Representatives 240-186, despite attempts to thwart the deal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
   Paul chided his Republican party-mates for allowing more federal spending than they did under President Barack Obama.
   “I ran for office because I was critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits,” Paul said on the floor of the Senate, according to a report from NPR. “Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits.”
   Pelosi, on the other hand, made an eight-hour speech on the House floor urging fellow Democrats to vote against the deal because it neglected to address the hot-button issue of immigration, specifically the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to expire on March 5.
   According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB), the recently signed Tax and Jobs Act will add an estimated $1.5 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years, and the nearly $300 billion in additional spending from the Bipartisan Budget Act will cause the annual budget deficit to grow to more than $1 trillion in 2019.
   “This deal is a blow to our nation’s fiscal outlook – especially if it is extended permanently,” the fiscal policy watchdog said in a statement.
   “No one voting for this bill can claim to care about the debt and deficits – in fact, it is fiscal malpractice,” said CRFB President Maya MacGuineas. “Congress just ordered everything on the menu and then some and sent the bill over to the kids’ table.”
   According to several media reports leading up to the bill’s passing, $20 billion of the overall $300 billion will be allocated toward infrastructure investments.
   During his election campaign, Trump touted a 10-year, $1 trillion plan, but later appeared to backpedal the amount, saying that the federal government would provide only 20 percent of that figure, with the rest to be made up by state and local governments and private investment. Then in October Trump reportedly dismissed the idea of public-private partnership funding for infrastructure projects, leaving analysts and the transportation industry at large to wonder where the remaining $800 billion would come from.
   During his first State of the Union speech to the nation in late January, Trump called on Congress to develop legislation that would generate at least $1.5 trillion “for the new infrastructure investment we need” and streamline permitting for major capital projects.
   The White House is expected to reveal a full proposal for infrastructure spending on Monday.


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