After a series of continuing resolutions in recent months, congressional leaders announced on Feb. 7 that they have reached a bipartisan budget agreement. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she supported many aspects of the deal, but she wanted a commitment from Speaker Paul Ryan for a vote to protect DREAMers.  Pelosi took to the House floor and spoke for more than eight hours, making a "prayerful human plea to the Speaker."  "Give us a vote; what are you afraid of?" Pelosi asked Ryan.  

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
February 7, 2018

Congress Reaches Bipartisan Government Funding Agreement

‘I am pleased to announce that our bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement... The compromise we’ve reached will ensure that, for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe. It will help us serve the veterans who have bravely served us. And it will ensure funding for important efforts such as disaster relief, infrastructure...'

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the bipartisan funding agreement reached by Congressional leaders:

“I am pleased to announce that our bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement. I want to thank my friend the Democratic Leader for joining me this afternoon, and for the productive discussions that generated this proposal.

“The compromise we’ve reached will ensure that, for the first time in years, our armed forces will have more of the resources they need to keep America safe. It will help us serve the veterans who have bravely served us. And it will ensure funding for important efforts such as disaster relief, infrastructure, and building on our work to fight opioid abuse and drug addiction.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House. No one would suggest it is perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people.

“First and foremost, this bipartisan agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung our armed forces and jeopardized our national security. Secretary Mattis said that, quote, ‘no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration.’ For years, my colleagues on the Senate Armed Services Committee, led by Chairman McCain, have spoken out about these damaging cuts.

“In the face of continuing and emerging threats, these cuts have left us unable to realize the potential of our missile defense capabilities. They’ve whittled down our conventional forces, laying an undue burden on forward-deployed personnel and their families. And they’ve shrunk our fleet to its lowest ship count in nearly three decades.

“We haven’t asked our men and women in uniform to do less for our country. We have just forced them to make do with less than they need. This agreement changes that.

“In addition, this bill will provide for our returning heroes. Too often, underfunded, over-complicated bureaucracies fail to deliver the care our veterans deserve. The Trump administration and Congress -- thanks to the leadership of Chairman Isakson -- have made important progress for veterans in the past year. This agreement will expand on those steps.

“This agreement will also bolster our ongoing national struggle against opioid addiction and substance abuse. It will fund new grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities across the country.

“It also provides funding for disaster relief efforts. Last year, powerful storms crippled Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and damaged mainland communities from Florida to Texas. Thanks to the efforts of members such as Senators Cornyn, Cruz, Rubio, and others, this bill will get more help on the way.

“And the agreement will clear the way for new investment in our nation’s infrastructure -- a bipartisan priority shared by the president and lawmakers in both parties.

“This bill does not conclude the serious work that remains before Congress. After we pass it, the Appropriations Committees will have six weeks to negotiate detailed appropriations and deliver full funding for the remainder of fiscal year 2018.

“But this bill represents a significant, bipartisan step forward. I urge every Senator to review this legislation and join us in voting to advance it. I want to thank my friend the Democratic Leader. I hope we can build on this bipartisan momentum and make 2018 a year of significant achievements for Congress, for our constituents, and for the country we love.

“And on one final matter, as I’ve said publicly many times, our upcoming debate on DACA, border security, and other issues will be a process that is fair to all sides. The bill I move to, which will not have underlying immigration text, will have an amendment process that will ensure a level playing field at the outset.

“The amendment process will be fair to all sides, allowing the sides to alternate proposals for consideration and for votes. While I obviously cannot guarantee any outcomes, let alone supermajority support, I can ensure the process is fair to all sides. And that is what I intend to do.”

Senate Minorty Leader Chuck Schumer
February 7, 2018

Schumer Floor Remarks Announcing Bipartisan Budget Deal

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the specifics of the bipartisan budget deal.  Below are his remarks which can also be viewed here:

Madam President, first let me thank the Republican Leader for his comments and his work these past several months. We have worked well together for the good of the American people. We had serious disagreements, but instead of just going to our own separate corners, we met in the middle and came together with an agreement that is very good for the American people and recognizes needs that both sides of the aisle proffered.

I am very pleased to announce that we have reached a two-year budget deal to lift the spending caps for defense and urgent domestic priorities far above current spending levels. There are still a few final details to work out, but all the principles of the agreement are in place.
The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want, it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has a great deal of what the American people want.

After months of legislative logjams, this budget deal is a genuine breakthrough. After months of fiscal brinkmanship, this budget deal is the first real sprout of bipartisanship. And it should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this Congress and hampered our middle class.    
This budget deal will benefit our country in so many ways.    
Our men and women in uniform represent the very best of America. This budget gives our fighting forces the resources they need to keep our country safe, and I want to join the Republican Leader in saluting Senator McCain. We wish he were here because he has fought so valiantly and so long for a good agreement for the armed forces.

The budget will also benefit so many Americans here at home: folks caught in the grips of opioid addiction, veterans waiting in line to get healthcare, students shouldering crippling debt, middle class families drowning under the cost of child care, rural Americans lacking access to high-speed internet, hardworking pensioners watching their retirement slip away.

Democrats have been fighting for the past year for these Americans and their priorities. We have always said we need to increase defense spending for our armed forces, but we also need to increase the kinds of programs that the middle class so needs and depends on. It is our job as Americans, as Senators, to make sure that middle-class people can live a life of decency and dignity, so that they can keep in their hearts the American belief that their kids will live a better life than they do. In this budget, we have moved for the first time, in a long time, a good deal forward on those issues.

Alongside the increase in defense funding, the budget deal will lift funding for domestic programs by $131 billion. It will fully repeal the domestic sequester caps while securing $57 billion in additional funding, including:
  • $6 billion to fund the fight against the opioid and mental health crises
  • $5.8 billion for the bipartisan Child Care Development Block Grant program
  •  $4 billion to rebuild and improve Veterans Hospitals and Clinics
  • $2 billion for critical research at the National Institutes of Health
  • $20 billion to augment our existing infrastructure programs, including surface transportation, rural water and wastewater, clean and safe drinking water, rural broadband so desperately needed in large parts of rural America, and energy infrastructure
  •  $4 billion for college affordability, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters
The budget deal also boosts several health care programs that we care a lot about in this country.

An increase in funding for community health centers, which serve over 26.5 million Americans, is included. My friends Senators Murray, Tester, Sanders and many others have been champions for these community health centers, and I want to thank them for all of the hard work they put in to get this done.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program will be extended an additional four years. Credit is due to our Ranking Member Senator Wyden, for his effort to get this extension. American families with children who benefit from CHIP will now be able to rest easy for the next decade.

Seniors caught in the Medicare Part D donut hole will also benefit from this bill, which erases the coverage gap next year helping millions of seniors afford prescription drugs. We have waited long for this. Rural hospitals that struggle, seniors, children and safety-net healthcare providers will benefit from a package of health tax extenders as well.

On the pension issue, Democrats secured a special select committee that must report a legislative fix to the problem by December 2018. Millions of pensioners – miners, teamsters, carpenters, bakery workers, and so many more – are staring down cuts to their hard-earned pensions. They didn’t do anything to cause those cuts. Their livelihoods are staked to these pensions. We ought to make sure they get every penny they earned. We Democrats would have liked to take up and pass the Butch Lewis Act. Unfortunately, we could not reach an agreement to do that. But now we have a process and, potentially, the means and the motivation to get that done. And there were so many Senators, led by Senator Brown, who are responsible for this. And I want to acknowledge him and Senators Casey, Stabenow, Manchin, Klobuchar, Baldwin, McCaskill, Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Smith who worked so long and hard on pensions.

This budget deal also includes long-awaited disaster relief for Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the western states, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Many of these places are still taking their first steps in the long march to recovery. Much of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands remains damaged and in the dark. This recovery aid could not come a moment too soon. Senator Nelson worked very hard for both Florida and Puerto Rico relief, as did so many others in this chamber.

I’d also like to thank our Ranking Member on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Leahy, who worked so diligently with his staff and his Ranking Members on these issues. As well as Senator Murray, who’s been our beacon on health issues, where we’ve made real progress today.
The budget deal is a win for the American people. It will do so much good for our military, for so many middle-class Americans, and finally consign the arbitrary and pointless sequester caps to the ash heap of history.

A final point, Madam President: our work here in Congress on this budget deal, between the Republican Leader and I, between the Senate and House, was completed without a great deal of help from the White House.

While President Trump threatens shutdowns and stalemates, Congressional Leaders have done the hard work of finding compromise and consensus. It has been a painstaking, months-long process. It has required concessions, sometimes painful, by both sides. But at the end of the day, I believe we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves but both sides can be proud of. That’s compromise. That’s governing. That’s what we should be doing more of in this body. And it is my sincere hope that the Republican Leader and I will continue to work together in this way, to get things done for the American people.

And now we must finish the job. Later this week, let’s pass this budget into law alongside an extension of government funding. I hope the House will follow suit and President Trump will sign it. I also hope that Speaker Ryan will do what Senator McConnell has agreed to do: allow a fair and open process to debate a Dreamers bill on the House floor.

This budget deal will be the best thing we’ve done for our economy, our military, and our middle class in a long time.

Speaker Paul Ryan
February 7, 2018

The Bipartisan Budget Act: Investing in Defense, Veterans, Disaster Relief, Combatting Opioids, Infrastructure

“We need Congress to lift the defense spending caps and support a two-year budget agreement for our military…. We expect the men and women of our military to be faithful in their service even when going in harm's way. We have a duty to remain faithful to them.”  --Secretary of Defense James Mattis, 2/7/2018

A bipartisan, bicameral agreement was reached on a long-term budget agreement that, for the first time in years, will ensure that America’s armed forces have more of the resources they need to keep America safe.

The two-year budget agreement also makes critical investments in America’s veterans, disaster relief, infrastructure, and further combatting opioid abuse and drug addiction.

  • This agreement will unwind the sequestration cuts that have hamstrung America’s armed forces and jeopardized our national security by funding the military at this year’s National Defense Authorization Act levels.
  • It breaks the spending “parity” demanded for years by Democrats by giving defense a larger funding increase than non-defense discretionary spending.  Compared to current law spending caps, the agreement increases defense discretionary funding by $80 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and $85 billion in FY 2019 vs. an increase in non-defense domestic discretionary of $63 billion in FY 2018 and $68 billion in FY 2019. 
  • This agreement provides for America’s veterans by helping reduce the maintenance backlog at the Veterans Administration.
  • It also provides almost $90 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations for disaster relief efforts for communities crippled by hurricanes in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Texas.
  • This agreement includes $6 billion over two years to bolster the ongoing fight against opioid addiction and substance abuse by funding grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement efforts in vulnerable communities across the country.
  • The agreement includes a $20 billion new investment in America’s infrastructure -- a bipartisan priority shared by the President and lawmakers in both parties.
  • The agreement lifts the debt limit through March 1, 2019.
  • It includes structural reforms to Medicare and cuts to Obamacare, and repeals the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) from Obamacare.
  • It includes an extension of funding for Community Health Centers.
  • This agreement includes an extension of tax relief provisions that are supported by Republicans and Democrats.
  • It includes $2 billion in funding over two years for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
  • It establishes two committees to address pension and budget/appropriations reform.
Continuing Resolution & Disaster Supplemental:

The agreement includes a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government at current levels through March 23, 2018 in order for the Appropriations Committees to negotiate detailed appropriations and deliver full funding for the remainder of FY 2018, and begin the process for FY 2019.

The legislation also contains almost $90 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations to help states, communities, businesses, and individuals respond and recover from recent hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters.  Within in this funding, $4.9 billion is provided to increase Medicaid caps for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands for two years, along with program requirements.

Tax & Health Care Policies:

The agreement includes a one-year extension of critical tax provisions that help families, individuals and small businesses across the country.  These provisions expired at the end of 2016.

It includes an additional four years of authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

The measure also includes a package of bipartisan Medicare provisions, known as Medicare extenders, and funding for community health centers.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
February 7, 2018

Pelosi Statement on Budget Caps Agreement

Washington, D.C. – Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi released this statement on a budget caps agreement:

“The budget caps agreement includes many Democratic priorities.  With the disaster recovery package and dollar for dollar increases in the defense and non-defense budget, Democrats have secured hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in communities across America.  There will be billions in funding to fight opioids, to strengthen our veterans and the NIH, to build job-creating rural infrastructure and broadband, and to fund access to child care and quality higher education.

“This morning, we took a measure of our Caucus because the package does nothing to advance bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers in the House.  Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support.”