Spending and debt limit deal clears House, Senate votes next week

Washington (AFP) –


The US House passed a sweeping, bipartisan fiscal plan Thursday that boosts federal spending by $320 billion and suspends the debt ceiling for two years, beyond the next presidential election.

The measure, which is expected to clear the Senate next week, sets discretionary spending at more than $1.3 trillion for fiscal year 2020, a significant raising of budget caps on defense and domestic outlays.

It also allows the federal government to borrow more money and avoid a disastrous default in the coming months.

Secretary Steven Mnuchin had warned recently that the government could run out of funds in early September, while Congress was still on its summer recess, absent an agreement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress, said enacting the bill will "avoid another government shutdown... and the collateral damage that a shutdown does to our economy."

She also praised the bipartisan move to lift the debt limit until July 31, 2021, saying "the full faith and credit of the United States of America should never, ever be in question."

The bill now heads to the Senate before being sent to President Donald Trump for his signature.

While Trump has hailed the agreement as a "real compromise" that boosts funding for the military, the deal assures that Washington remains on a borrowing binge, a significant setback for the White House's stated goal of reining in expenditures.

The agreement includes roughly $75 billion in spending increase offsets, substantially less than Trump's administration had sought.

The plan is expected to push the annual budget deficit to more than $1 trillion next year.

Despite Trump's support, some two thirds of House Republicans voted against the measure, led by fiscal conservatives who expressed discomfort at the extra red ink and the behind-the-scenes nature of the negotiations between Pelosi, the three other leaders in Congress, and Mnuchin.