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Congress expected to pass bipartisan budget deal, but divisions remain

Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau on

Published in News & Features

"Anyone who votes for the Senate budget deal is colluding with this president and this administration to deport Dreamers," said Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., a leading advocate for immigrants. "It is as simple as that."

Dreamers continued to risk arrest across the Capitol complex as they tried to meet with lawmakers, often occupying their offices, to share their stories.

"We're in @NancyPelosi's office today to share our stories and make sure all House Dems keep their promise and vote no on any spending deal that does not include #DreamActNow," tweeted Bruna Bouhid of United We Dream, posting a photo with dozens of other immigration advocates in the leader's office.

At the same time, the conservative House Freedom Caucus announced it would reject the package, reasoning that $300 billion in new spending "adds to the swamp instead of draining it."

Annual federal deficits are expected to rise to $800 billion in 2018, levels not seen for several years.

"This is not what the American people sent us here to do," the Freedom Caucus said in a statement.

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Conservative groups in the network sponsored by the influential Koch brothers, whose money is crucial in elections, called the spending package -- and its extension of specialty tax breaks for race tracks and Hollywood filming -- "a betrayal of American taxpayers and a display of the absolute unwillingness of members of Congress to adhere to any sort of responsible budgeting behavior."

"This proposal is a massive failure," wrote Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners and others.

But for many lawmakers, the political fatigue of the budget battles – resulting in five temporary spending bills this fiscal year -- and the sprinkling of federal dollars across so many vital government functions was enough to bring their votes.

The package boosts both military and domestic spending by nearly $300 billion for two years, and provides an additional $90 million in disaster aid for coastal and Western states hit hard by last year's hurricanes and wildfires.

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