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Congress expected to pass bipartisan budget deal, but divisions remain

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Congress was on track to approve an ambitious bipartisan budget deal Thursday, averting a feared midnight government shutdown but also exposing deep divisions in both parties over immigration, deficit spending and how best to prepare for upcoming midterm election.

The Senate was set to vote first. A coalition of Republicans and Democrats was expected to provide momentum for passage later in the House.

"I am confident that no senator on either side of the aisle believes this is a perfect bill," said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., ahead of voting. "But I'm also confident this is our best chance to begin rebuilding our military and make progress on issues directly affecting the American people."

Compromise often brings the parties together in partners-in-arms strategy to accomplish a common goal -- in this case, to avoid the cycle of shutdown threats and temporary measures, including one needed Thursday to keep government running.

But this deal brought opposition from almost all sides, particularly in the House, where lawmakers often stake more partisan positions. Conservative Republicans protested deficit spending and Democrats decried the lack of action to protect the young immigrants from deportation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged Democrats to oppose the package, even though she had a hand in crafting it, while allies of Speaker Paul D. Ryan all but pleaded with his majority to deliver the votes needed for passage.


Only in the Senate, whose leaders negotiated the deal, did a sense of accomplishment emerge over a bill that enables Congress to move beyond the fiscal fights to other issues -- and the campaign trail -- and assert legislative branch's ability to function despite Trump's often shifting views.

"Often times we can get a lot more done working with one another and let the White House just sit on the sidelines," said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y.

The spending package could become a defining moment ahead of the midterm election when control of the House, and the narrow balance of power in the Senate, are at stake.

Outside groups intensified the pressure, storming offices and jamming phone lines, warning lawmakers their votes would be logged and remembered.


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