- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on Thursday said the $1.3 trillion spending bill moving through Congress this week should close the chapter on what he called the “era of austerity.”

“This spending agreement brings the era of austerity to an unceremonious end and represents one of the most significant investments in the middle class in recent history,” the New York Democrat told reporters. “It’s really a turning around.”

Republicans and Democrats alike have decried across-the-board cuts, known as sequesters, that resulted from a 2011 debt deal agreed to by President Obama and Congress.

The spending caps resulting from the 2011 Budget Control Act helped produce two straight years of actual reductions in government spending for the first time since the 1950s.

But both parties have tried to get around or lift the caps since then. The latest example was a budget deal last month that allowed for $143 billion in additional discretionary spending in 2018.

Mandatory spending on entitlement programs like Medicare, which budget analysts agree are the chief drivers of an ever-increasing national debt, are largely exempt from the caps and left on autopilot.

SEE ALSO: Congress passes $1.3 trillion spending bill

“We Democrats are really happy with what we were able to accomplish on a number of priorities that Democrats have fought for all along - infrastructure, education, opioid relief, and more,” Mr. Schumer said of the spending bill.

“At the end of the day, as the minority party, we feel good about being able to succeed in so many ways,” he said. “We don’t have the House. We don’t have the Senate. We don’t have the presidency. But we produced a darn good bill for the priorities that we have believed in.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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