McConnell defends budget and debt ceiling agreement

McConnell defends budget and debt ceiling agreement

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at the Tuesday briefing, Sept. 25, 2018, (Photo ©2018 Doug Christian)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Photo © 2018 Doug Christian/TMN)

WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defended a $1.37 trilllion budget deal brokered between congressional leaders and the Trump administration that raises spending by $321 billion over a two-year period and suspends the debt ceiling for the same duration.

“I make no apologies for this two-year caps deal. I think it’s the best we could have done in a time of divided government. The alternatives were much worse,” McConnell (R-Ky.) said at a news conference on Tuesday.

McConnell said alternatives to the deal included a one-year continuing resolution, which would have maintained funding at existing levels, billions of dollars in automatic spending cuts that are set to take place in December 2020, and “perpetual chaos.”

McConnell said he wished to “congratulate” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for taking the lead in budget negotiations. He said the two leaders crafted “the very best possible deal we could have crafted” with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and Republicans in control of the Senate.

President Donald Trump announced the deal and his support for it in a tweet on Monday evening. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer (D-N.Y.) followed up in a joint statement in which they expressed their support for the deal.

The agreement is product of months of negotiations. It provides near-parity between defense and domestic spending.

Several of the more conservative Republicans have said they will not support the deal because it adds to the national debt, which is now over $22 trillion.

Earlier this month, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a report that said the government might exceed its borrowing limit in early September. Previous reports said the government would not default until October or November.

The House is scheduled to adjourn for the August recess at the end of the week. The Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the recess on Aug. 2.

If both chambers do not approve the deal before they leave town, they will have only a  matter of days after they reconvene to prevent the government from going into default.

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