Senate approves two-year, $2.7 trillion government spending bill
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday approved a $2.7 trillion spending agreement negotiated between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House, sending the deal to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
The bill passed 67-28. It was approved with more Democratic votes than Republican, a potential embarrassment for the White House in the GOP-controlled chamber.
GOP leaders and the president were lobbying Senate Republicans this week to support the plan, hoping to soften the optics of a Pelosi-White House-negotiated bill passing on Democratic votes.
“He’s been involved, yes,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate GOP whip, said of Trump’s role in the last-minute lobbying.
An hour before the vote, Trump tweeted another endorsement of the plan, calling it “phenomenal for our Great Military, our Vets, and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Two year deal gets us past the Election.”
And in a nod to the biggest GOP critique of the plan — that it doesn’t do enough to limit spending — Trump said there would be an opportunity to do so later.
“Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!” he added.
“We need to support the president on this,” said Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota, one of the GOP senators who said Wednesday that he would support the plan. The White House and congressional “leadership has done the best they can to come up with an agreeable solution in divided government.”
The plan would raise the nation’s debt ceiling through 2021 as well as raise caps on federal spending for the next two years. Lawmakers would still have to enact additional legislation to determine how and where the money would be spent.
But many Republicans voiced opposition to the plan for lifting the spending caps, resulting in $320 billion more spending, with only $77 billion in cuts. In the past, some GOP lawmakers have also opposed raising the debt ceiling without cuts.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., dubbed the bill’s passage as the “final nail in the coffin” of the tea party movement and fiscal responsibility.
“Adoption of this deal marks the death of the tea party,” he said on the Senate floor. “Where are the fiscal conservatives? What happened to the tea party movement?”
Republicans were torn between supporting a White House-approved plan that eliminated caps on defense spending — a significant GOP priority — and supporting a Pelosi-approved plan that would raise the debt limit and result in new spending for domestic programs.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tried to frame the deal as the best compromise possible in a divided government. And he stressed the importance of avoiding the “chaos” that would come if the government defaulted on its debts.
“I am confident it is not exactly the legislation that either side of the aisle would have written if one party held the White House, the House, and had 60 votes in the Senate. That’s divided government,” he said on the Senate floor this week. “But I am equally confident that this is a deal that every one of my colleagues should support.”
House Republicans weren’t wild about the plan, either. The spending agreement was approved in that chamber last week in a 284-149 vote, with 219 Democrats and 65 Republicans.