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House Democrats Resisting Bipartisan Budget Deal Unveiled by Senate Leadership

By Jack O'Brien  
   February 07, 2018

McConnell and Schumer announced an agreement Wednesday to avoid a second government shutdown, but Pelosi says the immigration issue stands in the way.  

A bipartisan budget deal that would fund several healthcare programs has support from Senate leadership, but House Democrats looking to secure a vote on immigration reform are poised to withhold votes for the funding package.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced an agreement Wednesday afternoon on a two-year budget deal to avoid another government shutdown, though a floor vote has not been held.

McConnell and Schumer announced a two-year, $300 billion budget deal that includes $7 billion in funding for community health centers, as well as a four-year funding extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This comes after CHIP received a six-year funding extension last month following a three-day shutdown.

“This bill is the product of extensive negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House,” McConnell said. “No one would suggest it is perfect. But we worked hard to find common ground and stay focused on serving the American people.”

Related: Deadline Week for Community Health Center Funding: ‘Lip Service Really Isn’t Enough’

Other federal health programs, including teaching health centers and the National Health Service Corps., would receive $363 million and $495 million in funding appropriations from the budget deal, respectively.

Despite the rare show of bipartisanship in the upper chamber, the agreement faces skepticism and resistance from both sides of the aisle in the House.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she will not vote for the measure unless House Speaker Paul Ryan promises to hold a vote on the Deferred Action on Child Arrivals (DACA). Pelosi spent more than seven hours speaking on the House floor Wednesday in protest of the Trump administration’s stance on DACA, thus sidelining the potential budget deal.

Related: Another Government Shutdown Could Come Friday. What Would it Mean for Healthcare?

Immigration reform was a key point of debate during the previous government shutdown until Schumer secured votes to end the shutdown after McConnell promised a vote on DACA funding in the future. The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week.  

Fiscal conservatives like the Freedom Caucus, have also indicated they will vote against the deal due to the increase in new government spending. Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., called the bipartisan agreement a “Christmas tree of spending” on MSNBC Wednesday afternoon.

If all, or at least most, Democrats follow Pelosi to vote against the budget deal, and are joined by the 36-member Freedom Caucus, the measure could fail in a floor vote.

During the White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the Trump administration is encouraged by the talks in the Senate and will wait to respond to the bill’s final components.  

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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