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Bipartisan agreement could still face blowback in the House

Bipartisan agreement could still face blowback in the House


AFP
WASHINGTON
US lawmakers braced for crunch votes on Thursday on a deal to keep the federal government open past a midnight deadline, as rebellion simmered among both Republicans and Democrats over the bipartisan budget agreement struck to end the logjam.
Senators were expected to take up and pass the breakthrough bill later Thursday, and then send it to the House of Representatives -- which will barely have time to debate it before government funding expires at midnight.
The measure's fate in the House is uncertain, raising tensions in Washington as Congress scrambles to avoid what would be a second government shutdown in three weeks.
With party unity fraying in the lower chamber over the deal, House Speaker Paul Ryan appeared to shrug off concerns that several Republicans might oppose the deal.
Earlier Thursday, the Senate voted to block a separate defense spending measure -- that also included short-term federal funding -- largely because it failed to fund domestic programs along with the military.
So it will now take up a revised six-week temporary spending bill that includes the major budget deal struck Wednesday between Senate leaders on both sides of the political aisle.
That agreement includes a significant $300 billion increase to both military and non-military spending limits for this year and 2019, and raises the debt ceiling until March 1 next year.
That would break the cycle of showdowns over government funding in time for what is expected to be a bruising campaign season ahead of November's mid-term elections.
The bill also provides a massive $90 billion in disaster relief following deadly 2017 storms in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, and funding to address the nationwide opioid abuse crisis.
"Not only will it end this series of... fiscal crises that have gridlocked this body, it will also deliver a large investment in our military and robust funding of middle-class programs,"the Senate's top Democrat Chuck Schumer told colleagues.
"It's a strong signal that we can break the gridlock that has overwhelmed this body and work together for the good of the country."
The measure is widely expected to pass the Senate, but could face stiff blowback in the House, where fiscal conservatives may balk at adding billions of dollars to the national debt two months after passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut package.
On Wednesday, the House Freedom Caucus of far-right Republicans foretold possible roadblocks ahead, officially opposing the budget caps deal.

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