What’s hidden in the Senate Spending Bill

 

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Tucked into the Senate budget bill are a host of provisions that help a broad array of industries and sectors, including energy, health care and education, through increased spending and tax credits.

The Senate deal would raise strict spending caps on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next by about $300 billion. It would also lift the federal debt limit until March 2019 and provide nearly $90 billion in disaster relief to deal with last year’s fires and hurricanes.

It also includes a series of unexpected spending increases, including restoring some provisions that were jettisoned from last year’s $1.5 trillion tax package. And the bill includes an extension of 48 different tax credits that expired at the end of 2016, including several incentives meant to help particular sectors like mining and horse racing.

Budget Deficits Are Projected to Balloon Under the Bipartisan Spending Deal

The two-year budget agreement passed by Congress early Friday is projected to contribute hundreds of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

The deal increases spending for bipartisan priorities.

Republicans have pushed for a boost in military spending, while Democrats have long argued for similar increases for domestic programs. The deal includes more spending for both for the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years.

 

The deal primarily affects discretionary spending, which makes up about one-third of the federal budget and does not include entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

But it will contribute to rising deficits and debt …

According to a preliminary analysis of the deal, federal deficits are projected surpass $1 trillion by 2019, a level not seen since the recession and its aftermath.

 

Deficits will grow even more if the policies in the deal are extended beyond 2019. Lawmakers have also promised that individual tax cuts passed in December that are set to expire after 10 years will be extended, which would put even more pressure on the federal debt.

 

… and will break through spending caps for military and domestic programs.

The caps, which Congress set for itself in 2011, will be surpassed by about $300 billion over two years, significantly more than in the past.

 

The deal includes:

*$90 billion in disaster relief

*$20 billion for infrastructure projects

*$6 billion to combat the opioid crisis

*$5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program

*$2 billion for National Institutes of Health (NIH) research

It will also: 

 

*Increase the debt limit through March 1, 2019

*Authorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for

* an additional four years (on top of a recent six-year extension)

*Extend 48 different tax credits for one year

*Reauthorize Community Health Centers for two years

*Makes structural changes to Medicare

*Repeal an independent medical advisory board established under the Affordable Care Act to control Medicare spending

*Create a new committee on pension solvency

 

What’s Next in the Fight to Protect Dreamers

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On September 5, 2017, Donald Trump eliminated the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. This Obama-era program has offered a lifeline to hundreds of thousands of Dreamers who have grown up in the U.S. They are Americans, plain and simple, and now they’re being held hostage by Donald Trump and Stephen Miller as leverage for the White House’s nativist immigration demands. Donald Trump has rejected multiple bipartisan agreements that would have provided relief for Dreamers and also met the Department of Homeland Security’s requests on security. Instead, Trump is pushing for a proposal that would provide $25 billion for his border wall, ramp up deportations, and drastically limit family reunification.

The fight for Dreamers isn’t over, but the path forward is highly uncertain.

Get ready for a possible defensive fight over the Dream Act. Up next in the Senate? Standalone immigration bills, which are a risky proposition in this Congress. Conservative Republicans are pouncing on the opportunity to work on immigration and have proposed several nativist bills, demanding that they receive a vote. It appears that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are allowing Republicans to pursue an immigration bill that is separate from government spending bills. This all but ensures that the final package will be an extreme, enforcement-heavy proposal that immigrant rights organizations will oppose.

This means that instead of getting a narrow, reasonable DACA fix, we could find ourselves trying to stop an anti-immigrant bill from getting through Congress. It’s still too early to tell, but this is likelier at this point than the Dream Act we all want.

What about the McCain-Coons proposal? The McCain-Coons proposal is helpful in that it actually seeks to address the DACA crisis, and highlights just how extreme the alternative proposals are, but it is unlikely to move in this Republican-controlled Congress. Despite what you might be hearing, the negotiations in Congress have stalled. In fact, negotiations have steadily deteriorated since the bipartisan deal reached by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) back in December. Most of the current proposals go beyond the DACA fix we need and add anti-immigrant provisions more consistent with the White House’s framework. Those conservative proposals would empower ICE and other immigration officials to more quickly remove and jail immigrants, effectively requiring that Dreamers sacrifice the safety of their parents. It is too high a price to pay.

 

What You Can Do To Help Dreamers…  (click here to read more)

 

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