Senate holds final vote on Trump-backed budget deal

Before the Senate adjourns for its August recess, it will vote on a Trump-backed budget deal cut between the White House and Democratic congressional leaders. Ahead of the vote, some Republicans said they weren’t entirely happy with the bill, which would raise spending by $324 billion and would also suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021, eliminating the prospect of an ugly battle before the 2020 election.

“I have some concerns,” Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina said, pointing to the huge spending increase. “Caps are essentially gone forever,” and he wondered, “what is the long-term impact on the average person in our country?” The budget caps, put in place in 2011 to control government spending will expire in 2021, and this deal would, as Scott notes, exceed the caps.

Sen. John Kennedy, of Louisiana, says he’ll vote “no” because he’s not comfortable with the spending increases. He supports raising defense spending and said in the short term, he welcomes the idea that it might bring “a little peace to this place,” though he added, “I’m not much of a believer in peace at any cost.”

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“Everybody says they want to reduce spending, he noted, “but it’s like going to heaven. Everybody wants to go to heaven. Nobody’s quite ready to make the trip. And that’s where it is with reducing spending,” he noted. “And put me down as a ‘no’ dog.” 

The spending increases would add another $2 trillion to the nation’s $22 trillion debt over the next decade. Many, even Mr. Trump’s closes allies, have conceded that it’s the best the GOP can get at this point. 

Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham declared he’s a yes vote for what amounts to a “big win for the military.” He scoffed at senators who’d hold the line on military spending without approving similar increases that Democrats want in non-defense sectors. 

“What are your options? If you vote against it, then you should be in charge of negotiating the New Deal,” he told reporters. “The House Democratic caucus wants more spending for non-defense. If we increase defense spending, that dynamic is not going to change.” 

If the Senate fails to pass the deal, which also raises the debt ceiling, the U.S. is in danger of defaulting, and “that’s a disaster,” Graham warned. 

“I think it’s going to pass,” he said. “I think it’s gonna pass overwhelming.”  

Last week, the House passed the two-year spending and debt limit deal 284 to 149, with 219 Democrats voting in favor and 16 voting against. Sixty-five Republicans supported the measure.

On Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that Democrats were ready to pass the deal as soon as possible, given the warnings about default.. 

“Treasury Secretary Mnuchin has said there is a danger to the debt defaulting. Let’s get this done and get it done now. I asked Speaker McConnell, Leader McConnell on the floor today, ‘Let’s get it done today.’ There would be no Democratic hold up,” he offered. 

Asked why the White House didn’t push harder for sweeping cuts, acting chief of staff and former OMB Director Mick Mulvaney told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the administration was just “never going to get them.”

“You can do what’s possible in Washington D.C. When the Democrats won the House, the chances of us passing a budget deal that were going to satisfy my friends and colleagues in the Freedom Caucus, went to practically zero. Elections do have consequences,” he conceded. 

After the Senate acts it goes to the White House for the president’s signature.

Myles Nuzzi contributed to this report.

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