Senate leaders strike budget deal ahead of shutdown deadline

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders have reached a broad long-term spending deal just one day before the latest in a string of government shutdown deadlines, NBC News has learned.
The measure, negotiated between Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, increases domestic spending by $63 billion and military spending by $80 billion for 2018 and similar spending levels for 2019. If it gains enough support, it could make this fifth short-term spending deal the final one for the year. The measure would also extend disaster relief and funding for community health centers and opioid treatment, all priorities for Democrats.
McConnell and Schumer are expected to announce the deal as early as Wednesday. Until an announcement is made, details could change.
“I’m confident there’s not going to be a government shutdown, and there shouldn’t be,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said. “I feel very encouraged by the conversations that I’ve had with both leaders that they are truly coming close to a budget cap agreement that is necessary for us to proceed with the funding of government for the remainder of this fiscal year. We’re already nearly six months into the fiscal year, and it’s irresponsible of us to not finish this work.”

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Even with a broader spending deal, Congress would still have to pass a short-term spending bill by midnight on Thursday because the new agreement doesn’t actually fund the government but creates the top-line spending levels that enables them to write the appropriations bills. That process takes at least one month and the stop-gap bill would give them more time to do that.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has complicated the prospects for eventual passage, however. She put out a pre-emptive statement Wednesday morning saying that she wouldn’t support a deal that does not include a solution for undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children, known as Dreamers.
“The budget caps agreement includes many Democratic priorities,” Pelosi said. “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.”
The support of Democrats in the House is necessary as conservative Republicans are expected to oppose it because of an increase in domestic spending. Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said he’s unlikely to support any spending deal that increases domestic spending.
“There’s negotiations going on even at this hour right now on the spending, and I’m afraid that the deal that they’re going to announce, Chuck Schumer will be very happy about that, the Freedom Caucus members won’t,” Meadows said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”