- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2019

President Trump and congressional leaders reached a deal Monday evening to boost spending by hundreds of billions of dollars, while carving out trillions of dollars in new debt space for future borrowing.

The deal clears the path for Congress to write spending bills this year and next year, with increases in both defense and domestic spending.

The federal debt limit, meanwhile, will be suspended for two full years, giving the government the power to borrow and spend without having to worry about a default — but adding to the country’s growing sea of red ink.

Congressional leaders also agreed not to use the spending process to start new policy fights. That is a slight victory for the Trump administration, which was facing the prospect of having to bat down a number of liberal wish-list items such as attempts to cut off funding for some of the president’s immigration moves.

Instead, the leaders promised, “there will be no poison pills” or “additional new riders” attached to any of the spending bills unless both GOP and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate all agree to them.

The deal marks the final blow to the 2011 debt deal between President Barack Obama and then-House Speaker John A. Boehner, a Republican, in the wake of the tea party wave election.

That 2010 deal led to several years of actual spending reductions — but by the middle of the decade, lawmakers were complaining that the budget “sequester” caps were too tight. Republicans complained that the military was being crippled, while Democrats said important domestic priorities were being short-changed.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer cheered the death of that old budget deal.

“Democrats have achieved an agreement that permanently ends the threat of the sequester,” they said in a joint statement. “With this agreement, we strive to avoid another government shutdown, which is so harmful to meeting the needs of the American people and honoring the work of our public employees.”

But budget watchdogs, anticipating the deal, said it’s nothing to gloat over.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said it “may end up being the worst budget agreement in our nation’s history.”

Maya MacGuineas, president of the CRFB, said it will seal Mr. Trump’s legacy of red ink and doom the country to perpetual trillion-dollar deficits.

“President Trump should reject this plan and honor his words from last year after signing the 2018 omnibus bill, when he said he would “never sign another bill like this again,” she said.

That’s unlikely.

The outline of the deal said the Trump administration is on board.

Mrs. Pelosi hopes to put the debt and spending deal on the floor for a vote later this week, before her troops leave town for a lengthy summer vacation.

Congress is racing a fall deadline for the debt limit.

Washington had been operating under a previous debt holiday through early March, when the debt limit was reimposed at $21.988 trillion.

A new two-year debt holiday is likely to add at least $2 trillion more to that figure, based on the last two years’ worth of growth.

Mr. Trump, who in 2016 campaigned on eliminating the federal debt in eight years, may end up rivaling President Obama for the largest increase in history.

Before the deal was struck Monday, he defended himself to reporters at the White House, saying “we’re doing pretty well on our budget.”

He cast his willingness to bust the budget caps as a sacrifice made to boost the military.

“Our military was depleted, and in the last two and a half years, we’ve un-depleted it,” he said. “We have made it stronger than ever before. We need another big year. So we had $700 billion, we had then $716 billion, and this year we’re going to be asking for a number slightly larger than that.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide