On the day of the latest government shutdown, Congress passed a two-year $300 billion, 652-page budget under 18 hours, much to the dismay of conservatives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) struck a deal on Wednesday to fund the government for two years, featuring substantial increases in domestic and defense spending. Both the House and Senate passed the $300 billion two-year budget on Friday morning, halting a temporary government shutdown.
The House passed a stop-gap spending bill on Tuesday that funded the government through March 23; the bill funded the Defense Department for one year and financed community health centers for two years.
The Senate Appropriations Committee released the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 around 12:00 a.m. on February 7 and McConnell began the procedure to start voting on the budget around 6:00 p.m. on February 8, leaving roughly 18 hours for members of Congress to read the bill.
At 652 pages long, lawmakers would have had to read 36 pages per hour without sleeping to read the bill before the Senate proceeded to start voting on the budget.
The two-year budget also angered conservatives for being full of special tax breaks and subsidies.
It’s a “Christmas tree on steroids,” Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) said, suggesting that the spending bill is full of pork-barrel spending.
The Hill reported that the special tax provisions amount to $17.4 over the next four years; the bill contains $13.3 billion in tax credits in fiscal year 2018, according to an analysis conducted by the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT).
One provision in the budget limits an excise tax on investment income at private colleges with at least 500 students, which allegedly benefits small schools such as Berea College, based in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky.
Another part of the bill extends the three-year depreciation for racehorses, allowing owners to depreciate the value of their horses. This tax appreciation was a top priority of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, which also resides in Kentucky.
The budget also extends special expensing for film and television productions, giving a nice gift to Hollywood and Sen. Schumer’s home state of New York. This provision costs the government $1.3 billion alone.
Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also won with an energy tax credit for advanced nuclear power facilities, which $12.2 billion in 2018.
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) chided the Senate for passing a two-year budget deal filled with excessive government spending.
Johnson argued in a statement:
Three days ago, the House Republican majority sent a bill to the Senate that fully funded all our military needs and other critical priorities without additional, unnecessary increases in federal spending. Unfortunately, the Senate sent back a bill that will expand our government and increase the federal deficit by as much as $1 trillion in the next year alone.
Club for Growth President David McIntosh charged that the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 also contains extensions of “cronyist” tax extenders and subsidies to benefit special interests.
As if that’s not bad enough, this deal also includes $80+ billion in so-called disaster relief spending, cronyist tax extenders, an expansion of farm subsidies, and another suspension in the debt ceiling, conveniently timed to expire after the mid-term elections. Nowhere in this deal are the $54 billion in spending cuts outlined in President Trump’s budget. Instead, the big government freight train is running out of control.
The budget deal, known as the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, includes:
- Spending limits created by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will be raised by about $300 billion over the next two years.
- Defense spending will be raised by $80 billion in the current fiscal year and by $85 billion next year.
- Domestic spending will increase by $63 billion this year and by $68 billion next year.
- Congress will suspend the debt limit through March 2019, putting the next debt limit vote past the 2018 midterm elections.
- $20 billion for additional infrastructure programs such as surface transportation, rural water, and wastewater systems.
- $6 billion to fight the opioid crisis.
- $4 billion for college affordability programs to help police officers, teachers, and firefighters.
- $90 billion in disaster aid for Texas, Florida, and Peurto Rico.
- The bill repeals Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which was designed to limit Medicare costs.
- A ten-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is four years longer than the previous spending bill passed last month.
- The two-year spending bill excludes funding for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall. President Trump asked for $25 billion over several years to build the southern border wall.
- The bill does not include any legislation addressing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) illegal aliens, much to the dismay of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) blocked voting on the budget deal early Friday morning, attempting to force McConnell to allow a vote on an amendment to the budget that would keep the Budget Control Act’s spending caps.
Sen. Paul asked, “Are we to be conservative all the time or only when we’re in the minority?”