What you need to know about the Senate budget deal

Senate leaders have agreed to the biggest budget deal of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpMilitary personnel to handle coronavirus patients at facilities in NYC, New Orleans and Dallas Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort has total of 20 patients: report Fauci says that all states should have stay-at-home orders MORE’s presidency, ending a months-long partisan standoff that briefly shuttered the federal government in January.

Both chambers are expected to vote on the package Thursday ahead of a midnight deadline for keeping the government open.

Passage in the Senate is a certainty given support from Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Top GOP lawmakers push back on need for special oversight committee for coronavirus aid Stocks move little after record-breaking unemployment claims MORE (R-Ky.) and Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar Trump lashes out at Schumer over call for supply czar MORE (N.Y.), who have hailed it as a major breakthrough.

ADVERTISEMENT

In the House, the outcome isn’t as certain.

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWho should be the Democratic vice presidential candidate? The Pelosi administration It's not populism that's killing America's democracy MORE (R-Wis.) has also praised the deal, but conservative Republicans are rejecting it.

House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiNJ governor calls for assessment of coronavirus response after crisis abates Overnight Health Care: Global coronavirus cases top 1M | Cities across country in danger of becoming new hotspots | Trump to recommend certain Americans wear masks | Record 6.6M file jobless claims Hillicon Valley: Zoom draws new scrutiny amid virus fallout | Dems step up push for mail-in voting | Google to lift ban on political ads referencing coronavirus MORE (Calif.) says she’ll vote against the bill because it does not include language to protect from deportation hundreds of thousands of immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. But she isn’t whipping her members to oppose the legislation.

Here’s what’s in the deal:

Spending cap increases

The measure raises the cap on defense discretionary spending by $80 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $85 billion in fiscal year 2019.

It also provides $71 billion in emergency or overseas contingency funding for 2018 and $69 billion for 2019, bringing total defense spending for those two years to $700 billion and $716 billion, respectively.

It raises the cap on nondefense domestic discretionary spending by $63 billion in fiscal year 2018 and $68 billion in fiscal year 2019.

It fully repeals the automatic spending caps known as sequestration for nondefense programs. Counting the repeal of the sequester cut and $57 billion in new spending, it represents a $131 billion increase for nondefense programs.

The big jump in defense spending has earned plaudits from Pentagon chief James MattisJames Norman MattisThe military will be ready for the challenge of the coronavirus era Is coronavirus the final Trump crisis? Pentagon seeks to reconsider parts of B cloud contract given to Microsoft over Amazon MORE and defense hawks in both chambers, though some have questioned whether it’s too much money for the military.

“Military spending and defense spending is far above the president’s request,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), an outspoken budget hawk who said Thursday he’d be voting on the bill. “I’m all for supporting our military, and I want to make sure they’re funded properly. It’s very difficult to have that big an increase in one year and then be able to use it wisely.”

Disaster relief

The bill provides nearly $90 billion in emergency funding for disaster relief in Puerto Rico, Florida and Texas, among other areas.

It includes $23.5 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s fund for recovery repairs and future mitigation and $28 billion in community development block grants for housing and infrastructure.

It also has $2 billion to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands rebuild their electric grids and $2.4 billion to help citrus growers in Florida and farmers in other areas recover from hurricanes and wildfires.

It spends $4.9 billion in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, which were hit hard by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Debt ceiling

The measure suspends the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019, sidestepping a fight with House conservatives who have demanded attaching spending reforms to any expansion of federal borrowing authority.

There’s growing sentiment on both sides of the aisle that the debt limit should be abolished, as it only authorizes the Treasury Department to pay obligations that Congress has already authorized.

Budget hawks, however, are unhappy with the fiscal impact of the deal. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget warns it would “set the stage for more than $1.5 trillion of new debt over the next decade.”

Opioid addiction

The agreement allocates $6 billion over two years to fight opioid addiction, a major priority of Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanGOP senator to donate 2 months of salary in coronavirus fight Senators pen op-ed calling for remote voting amid coronavirus pandemic Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on MORE (R-Ohio), who has spearheaded the Senate push to address what he says is a nationwide crisis.

It would fund prevention programs and law enforcement operations. 

Infrastructure

The bill provides $20 billion in new infrastructure investment, reflecting demands from Republicans who wanted a portion of the nondefense spending hikes to go to infrastructure.

This reflects a priority for Trump, who has called on Congress to pass a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill.

The $20 billion falls far short of the amount of federal money needed to leverage an infrastructure overhaul of the magnitude that Trump envisions, but it’s a start.

Veterans

The bill provides funding to reduce the backlog of more than 400,000 claims at Department of Veterans Affairs health centers.

One of Trump’s top priorities during the 2016 campaign was to improve care for military veterans. He signed an executive order expanding health care services for veterans leaving active duty.

The measure would provide $4 billion — $2 billion in 2018 and $2 billion in 2019 — to address the backlog.
 
Health care

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) would be extended by four years under the bill. The program was previously authorized for six years as part of a funding deal late last month that ended the January shutdown.

Democrats had called for a 10-year reauthorization of CHIP, but Schumer characterized the funding as a victory.

“American families with children who benefit with CHIP will now be able to rest easy for the next decade,” Schumer said Wednesday.

The deal OKs a two-year reauthorization of community health centers with more than $7 billion in total funding, another priority Democrats demanded during the January shutdown.

It closes the Medicare Part D “doughnut hole” for seniors.

And it gives $620 million over two years to the National Health Service Corps and $253 million over the same period to teaching health centers.

The bill also includes structural reforms to Medicare that a senior Democratic aide described as a routine way to offset the cost of the bill.

It would repeal ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, a controversial part of the 2010 Affordable Care Act that never got off the ground as critics warned it would take medical decisions away from doctors.

Budget, appropriations and pension reform

The bill establishes special committees to work on budget and appropriations reform and pensions reform.

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), a leading proponent of budgetary reform, applauded the development Wednesday.

“There may be some new energy behind working on process reform. That could be an encouraging sign,” he said.

Democrats say the creation of a joint select committee to address what they call the multiemployer pension crisis will help millions of pensioners, including miners who are faced with cuts to their benefits.

Helping retired miners is a top priority of Sens. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmakers press IRS to get coronavirus checks to seniors Democrats press Mnuchin to defend T coronavirus stimulus IG Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy MORE (D-Ohio) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinPressure mounts for national parks closure amid coronavirus White House, Senate reach deal on trillion stimulus package Some Democrats growing antsy as Senate talks drag on MORE (D-W.Va.) who are running for reelection this year in states that voted for Trump.

Mike Lillis contributed.

This story was updated at 11:59 a.m.