Trump says he’ll sign two-year deal to add $320 billion in spending and raise the nation’s borrowing authority

By Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver  |  The Hill

After weeks of negotiations, the White House and congressional leaders announced a deal that will raise budget caps and the debt ceiling for two years, giving both parties victories and allowing lawmakers to pass a bill before leaving Washington for the August recess.

President Trump was the first to announce the accord between the sides, which he touted as “another big victory to our Great Military and Vets,” calling the agreement “a real compromise.” The deal also puts off another government shutdown after the 35-day partial closure earlier this year and the pending risk of default on U.S. debt.

According to Jordain Carney, funding for the Pentagon — long a priority for GOP defense hawks — is boosted to $738 billion, which doesn’t match the president’s requested total, but is north of what Democrats pushed for. Meanwhile, Democrats won an increase in funding for nondefense spending to $632 billion —- a $27 billion increase over the previous package, something Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) were elated with.

“Democrats are also pleased to have secured robust funding for critical domestic priorities in this agreement,” the Democratic leaders said in a statement. “Democrats have always insisted on parity in increases between defense and non-defense [spending], and we are pleased that our increase in non-defense budget authority exceeds the defense number by $10 billion over the next two years.”  

Pelosi and Schumer added that they have secured more than $100 billion in funding for domestic projects since Trump took office.

Pelosi said in the statement that the House will “move swiftly” on the legislation so it will come up for a vote on the floor “as soon as possible.” Due to the need to have a bill posted for 72 hours, the vote is expected to take place on Friday before the House breaks for a six-week recess. The Senate, which breaks for recess on August 2, will be able to pass the bill next week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement that the agreement “secures the resources we need to keep rebuilding our armed forces.” In a statement, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, “While this deal is not perfect, compromise is necessary in divided government.” 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who led negotiations for the White House, had been in constant contact with Pelosi in recent weeks as they worked toward an agreement. Mnuchin had urged congressional leaders to pass a separate debt ceiling bill if they were unable to strike a budget agreement prior to the recess, saying that raising the debt limit would need to be done by early September.

Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press: Deal sealed on federal budget, ensuring no shutdown, default.

The Washington Post: Trump backs two-year budget deal that boosts spending, suspends debt limit.

Politico’s John Bresnahan, Burgess Everett: Deficit Don? Red ink gushes in Trump era.

Elsewhere in Congress, the Senate has two high-profile votes set today. Senators are expected to vote to confirm Army Secretary Mark Esper to lead the Pentagon. Esper was nominated after former acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan’s nomination to serve in the full-time role was withdrawn. The permanent position has been vacant since James Mattis resigned in January.

The upper chamber also is expected to approve the September 11th Victims Compensation Fund, which passed the House by a vote of 402-12 nearly two weeks ago. The package would reauthorize funding through fiscal 2092, with the Senate expected to vote on amendments by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who objected to the bill’s passage by unanimous consent last week.

Looking ahead to after the August recess, House Democrats are expected to release their bill to lower drug prices. According to Peter Sullivan, Wendell Primus, Pelosi’s top health care adviser, said House leadership is almost ready to release the proposal but is opting to wait and not give drug companies the opportunity to attack the bill during the congressional recess next month.

“Pharma will argue very hard against drug negotiation of the kind we’re talking about,” Primus said at a Brookings Institution event on Monday.

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