Posted by 12 February 2018
Bipartisanship flourished in Washington this week. While the parties have major differences, it seems the one thing that Democrats and Republicans can both agree on is a spending increase of $500 billion over two years.
Members of the two parties came together to pass a continuing resolution that would keep the government open until March 23, but eliminates caps on military and domestic spending that have been in place for most of this decade.
Here are some key features of the agreement that will add $320 billion to the deficit:
- Sixty percent of the spending increase goes to the military, the rest is for domestic programs.
- It includes $90 billion in disaster relief for Puerto Rico.
- There are targeted tax breaks for a variety of activities, including rum production, wind energy development, geothermal projects, and film production.
- It raises the debt ceiling until 2019.
Republicans pushed for the military spending increases. For Democrats, the package prevents scheduled cuts for Medicare and Medicaid, has nearly $6 billion for Child Care Development Block Grant, and $20 billion in money for infrastructure (which includes rural broadband funding), among other things.
Not everyone was thrilled with the bill, however. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) used procedural motions to block quick approval of it. He was opposed to the size of the spending increases and the fact that it will add significantly to the deficit. On the Senate floor, he said:
I ran for office because I was very critical of [Barack] Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits. Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits… I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits.
Sen. Paul’s delaying tactics prevented the bill from being passed and signed by the president by midnight on February 8, which is when funding for government operations ran out. This led to a brief five-hour shutdown of the federal government. Eventually, however, both the Senate (on a vote of 71-28) and the House of Representatives (on a vote of 240-186) passed the resolution, which President Trump signed.
Do you support increasing federal spending by $500 billion over the next two years? Or do you think it is a bad idea to grow the deficit?