Before leaving the town for August recess, the senators voted 67–28 to approve the bipartisan deal, with 23 Republicans and five Democrats voting against it. The bill passed the House on July 25 on a 284–149 vote. It now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature.
The White House and congressional leaders raced against the clock for weeks to reach a budget deal before the August recess. On July 22, they agreed on a nearly $2.7 trillion in discretionary spending plan over the next two years, ending the threat of a fiscal crisis.
The agreement suspends the debt ceiling until the end of July 2021, allowing the federal government to borrow more.
The deal also raises discretionary spending by about $320 billion in the next two years over existing caps put in place by the 2011 budget law. According to estimates by the Committee for a Responsible Budget, over the next decade, the deal adds roughly $1.7 trillion to the national debt, which already tops $22 trillion.
Fiscal conservatives in both the Senate and the House, however, voiced objections to the budget plan, calling it “fiscally irresponsible.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a prominent deficit hawk, said the “deal violates every principle of conservatism.”
“Those senators who voted for an unlimited increase in the debt ceiling are not and have no right to call themselves conservatives,” he said in a speech from the Senate floor on Aug. 1.
Other Republicans who objected to the bill were Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Democrats who voted against the bill included Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
“We need a new track to repair our fiscal foundation and save our children and grandchildren from a future debt crisis,” Romney said on Twitter.
Trump has repeatedly urged lawmakers to back the budget deal. He wrote on Twitter before the Senate vote, asking Republican senators to support the bill.
“Budget Deal is phenomenal for our Great Military, our Vets, and Jobs, Jobs, Jobs! Two year deal gets us past the Election,” he wrote Aug. 1 on Twitter, signaling there would be spending cuts if he wins in 2020.
“Go for it Republicans, there is always plenty of time to CUT!”
The new deal ends the budget caps known as sequestration under the 2011 budget law, which provides budgetary relief for the military. Under the new deal, the military budget would be $738 billion for the fiscal year 2020, a 3 percent increase from current-year levels.
According to the plan, non-defense spending would increase by $56.5 billion, about $10 billion more than defense spending over the next two years.
Speaking from the Senate floor on Aug. 1, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) defended the bill, calling lawmakers to support it.
“Given the exigencies of a divided government, we knew any bipartisan agreement on funding levels would not appear perfect to either side. But the administration negotiated a strong deal,” he said. “First and foremost, it ensures our federal government will not approach any kind of debt crisis in the coming weeks or months.”
Grover Norquist, conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform, said the new budget deal is a “wake-up call.”
“This bill is the cost of losing the House of Representatives in 2016,” he said. “In 2012, Republicans held only the House and were able to force $2 trillion in spending restraint on Obama.”
“It costs a great deal of taxpayer money when you lose the House,” he added.
The acting White House budget chief defended the new spending deal, saying it was a hard decision for the president.
“I totally appreciate all of the concerns,” Russ Vought, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, told The Epoch Times in a recent interview.
The administration’s goal is to “over time, get in a different trajectory,” to ensure that “we don’t continue to rack up debt,” he said.
“The president makes hard decisions. This was a hard decision. He thought it served the country well in this moment.”