Nancy Pelosi's 8-hour speech on Dreamers sets stage for votes on budget bill

U.S. Senate leaders reached a two-year budget agreement to raise government spending by almost $300 billion in a rare bit of bipartisanship, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi signalled her intention to vote against it Thursday, and fiscal conservatives are opposed for entirely different reasons.

House Minority Leader's 8-hour speech comes after bipartisan group of senators announces budget deal

Nancy Pelosi's marathon speech

3 years ago
House Minority Leader demands vote on legislation to protect Dreamers as U.S. government shutdown again looms 1:14

U.S. Senate leaders, in a rare bipartisan compromise, reached a deal on Wednesday to raise spending on military and domestic programs by almost $300 billion US over the next two years, but its passage in the House is anything but clear.

The Senate deal, if approved, would allow for $165 billion in extra defence spending and $131 billion more for non-military programs, including health, infrastructure, disaster relief and efforts to tackle an opioid crisis in the country.

It would stave off a government shutdown ahead of a Thursday night deadline for a new short-term spending bill, and also extend the federal government's debt ceiling until March 2019, putting off for more than a year the risk of a debt default.

The agreement was announced by the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate and backed by President Donald Trump and House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan.

DACA recipients and supporters protest outside Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on Jan. 22. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

The proposal will likely require the support of some Democrats if it is to pass the House. Some liberal Democrats opposed it because it does not include an agreement to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of "Dreamers," young people brought illegally to the United States as children.

In voicing her opposition, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi set the record for the longest continuous speech in House history, an eight-hour effort that included reading letters from Dreamers pleading to be allowed to stay in the United States.

Pelosi said she would not back the proposed deal unless Ryan committed to allow a vote on protecting Dreamers. But she did not appear to be pushing other Democrats to back her, saying: "Members will do what they'll do."

Voting expected Thursday

The Senate and the House were both expected to vote on the proposed deal on Thursday. If approved, the bill would then go to Trump to be signed into law.

Trump campaigned for the presidency on a promise to boost military spending and he gave his support to the budget deal in a tweet on Wednesday night.

"Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this bill!" the Republican president said.

The Senate deal would lift caps first imposed in 2011 on defence funding and domestic spending.

Some conservative House Republicans and outside groups complained it would lead to a $1 trillion fiscal deficit in 2019 and beyond.

"We support funding our troops, but growing the size of government by 13 percent is not what the voters sent us here to do," the conservative House Freedom Caucus said late on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leaves the chamber after announcing an agreement in the Senate on a two-year, almost $400 billion budget deal that would provide Pentagon and domestic programs with huge spending increases, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

Republican and Democratic rivals in the Senate earlier declared a breakthrough after months of bickering over spending priorities.

"This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among congressional leaders and the White House," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said on the Senate floor.

His Democratic counterpart, Chuck Schumer, said the deal "should break the long cycle of spending crises that have snarled this Congress and hampered our middle class."

The deal, if approved, would also fund the federal government until March 23, averting a second shutdown this year and giving lawmakers six weeks to resolve their differences over immigration policy and write the full-year budget.

It would also extend the debt ceiling for another year, reducing fears of an unprecedented U.S. debt default.

Trying to avoid 2nd shutdown of 2018

In financial markets, yields on benchmark 10-year notes rose on news of the budget deal, on expectations of higher growth and potentially greater Treasury supply.

A large uptick in bond issuance is expected after Congress raises the debt ceiling, which along with higher inflation expectations has weighed on bonds in the past week. 

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer of New York speaks with reporters at the Capitol. (J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

The Treasury Department has warned that without an extension in the debt ceiling, the government would run out of borrowing options in the first half of next month, risking an unprecedented debt default.

The government was shut down for three days last month after Democrats sought to have a spending bill include protections for the Dreamers.

Trump has said he is open to a deal for the Dreamers but only if he is able to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and tighten up on immigration policy.

Trump threatened on Tuesday to upend budget talks by saying he would welcome a government shutdown if Congress were not able to agree to changes in immigration law that he said would prevent criminals from entering the country. 

With files from CBC News


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