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Senate budget faces House headwinds. Here’s what we know about the mega-deal

Senate leaders have made one of the biggest bipartisan budget proposals in recent history. Their proposal would increase spending by about $300 billion. But not everyone is cheering: the most conservative members are openly hostile to the deal, while Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she wouldn't support it without DACA protections. Lisa Desjardins joins John Yang.

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  • John Yang:

    Tonight, Senate leaders are saying they have made a genuine breakthrough on the budget stalemate. But in the House, leading lawmakers say there's still a big hill to climb to avert a government shutdown tomorrow night.

    Lisa Desjardins begins our coverage.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    From a Congress usually frozen in gridlock came one of the largest bipartisan budget deals in recent history.

  • Sen. Mitch McConnell:

    I am pleased to announce that our bipartisan, bicameral negotiations on defense spending and other priorities have yielded a significant agreement.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell announced the agreement, which he and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer managed to hammer out in the past three days.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer:

    I believe that we have reached a budget deal that neither side loves, but that both sides can be proud of. That's compromise. That's governing. That's what we should be doing more of in this body.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The deal centers around the over $1 trillion in spending Congress controls. Defense and non-defense nearly split that total, and both would have faced budget cuts. This proposal would increase both, boosting defense about $160 billion and non-defense about $130 billion. That erases budget cuts, and adds more as well.

    In all, it's about $300 billion in increased spending over two years. About two-thirds of that, most of it, is not paid for and would add to the deficit.

    But those in charge in Congress and at the White House praised the mega-deal as well worth it for granting budget stability and strengthening the military and the rest of government.

    House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry-

  • Rep Mac Thornberry:

    If you vote yes, you're voting to fix the military. And if you vote no, you're voting against fixing the military.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    From the House Armed Services chairman to President Trump's press secretary, Sarah Sanders-

  • Sarah Sanders:

    This deal achieves our top priority- a much-needed increase in funding for our national defense. The bottom line is that, thanks to the president, thanks to President Trump, we can now have the strongest military we have ever had.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And that is just the beginning of the deal. It includes billions to fight the opioid crisis, for community health centers, a longer extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program, and even a special committee to deal with miners' and others pensions.

    But it wasn't all cheers. The most conservative members, exiting the meeting where they learned of the deal, were openly hostile to it.

    Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows-

  • Rep. Mark Meadows:

    I guess a number of us are just concerned about the fiscal reality of a bill that will come due not on our grandkids, but really on our children. Obviously, I consider the president a close personal friend, and even if he called me and asked me to vote for this, I'm afraid the answer would still be no.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    And, meanwhile, on the floor of the House-

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    So, I'm going to go on as long as my leadership minute allows.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    The Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, held an exceedingly rare sort of filibuster, turning her allotted one minute of time into hours, all about so-called dreamers, those brought to the U.S. illegally as children. She said she could not support a budget deal until there was a guaranteed path for a bill that would protect dreamers in the House.

  • Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

    That is a simple request. That is a simple request that the House Democrats and in bipartisan way others have joined in asking the speaker to bring a bill to the floor.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All about so-called dreamers, those brought to the U.S. as children. She said she could not support a budget deal until there was a guaranteed path for a bill that would protect dreamers in the House.

    Senate Republicans have promised a debate on the dreamers' status.

    Speaker Ryan sent a statement out this afternoon urging his House Republicans to vote for this deal. He stressed that he thinks this is the way to end this cycle of short-term budget fixes that we have been in for so long, John.

  • John Yang:

    So, Lisa, the speaker's on board, the White House is on board. Why is its future in the House still uncertain?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    Well, it comes down to the votes. Let's think about this, how it works with the Republican Party. Right now, a majority in the House, John, is 216 votes. That's because there are some vacancies.

    Republicans have 238 members, so they can spare 22 votes. However, the conservative Freedom Caucus has 30 to 40 votes. If that entire caucus votes no, the Republicans will come up short of the votes needed to pass this bill.

    And, tonight, we know that some members of that caucus are no votes. We just don't know how many. I also want to stress this is very different than the atmosphere on the Senate side. I was running back and forth between the two. And the Senate was really an oasis of calm consideration, many Republicans not saying where they will land, but telling me off the record they believe they will be a yes, vs. very choppy waters, very dramatic setting here on the House side, where things are much less certain.

  • John Yang:

    Part of that drama at least happening not very far away from you where you're standing right now. In your taped piece, you showed us Nancy Pelosi, the majority — minority leader, from this morning.

    She is still up. She is still speaking more than seven hours later. The House historian says it's a record. Explain to us, how is she able to expand this leadership minute into more than seven hours? And what's the significance of what she's doing?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    I cannot stress how unusual this is. This is something that we have seen on the Senate side for decades and decades, this kind of speaking.

    And, in fact, it's gotten kind of out of vogue to take to the floor and do this kind of long speech that she has. But she is doing this, I think, to prove two points. One, she does want to extract from Speaker Ryan a guarantee that a dreamer bill that gets through the Senate will get a vote on the House floor. She hasn't gotten that yet.

    On the other hand, she also has something, John, very important to prove to her own base. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Hispanics in general, those who are big supporters of dreamer protection, are unhappy with her and Democratic leadership. They feel that they have not gone far enough, and that they're making a budget deal without getting kind of a promise on the dreamers.

    Now, Democratic leaders say, we are trusting the Senate process, which will begin next week. There's an entire different debate on immigration. But Nancy Pelosi has to show her stamina and dedication to this issue.

    John, her real test is going to come in the next day, when we think this budget deal will come to the House and she is going to have to decide if she will vote yes or no, or if she will have her caucus vote yes or no. Those votes may be needed to prevent a shutdown.

  • John Yang:

    She talked about her vote. She said that she's likely to oppose it. But is she going to try to bring the caucus with her?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    That's the main question, because, again, vote counting is just under way. It's not clear how many Democrats will be needed to prevent a government shutdown.

    So she's being careful in her wording, too, because it's not clear how many of her members will be needed to walk the plank, as they say, up here tonight. There's a lot in flux on that.

  • John Yang:

    Let's go back to this deal that was struck behind you in the Senate. What else in this bill besides the spending?

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    All right, so I want you and everyone at home to maybe look at your watch, because I'm going to apologize. This is going to take a minute. This is an enormous, enormous deal.

    We only have three pages of a summary. But from reporting and talking to dozens of members and staff who've worked on this, sit back. Here's what else is in this deal, other than a spending agreement — $90 billion disaster aid — that's for Florida, Texas, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico — $20 billion for infrastructure, $6 billion for the opioid crisis, all of those over two years.

    And there's more. The Children's Health Insurance Program, that has a 10-year extension. That's four years than we had previously. Community health centers, two years of funding. Medicare, there's a Part D donut hole problem next year. That is closed in this deal.

    Also, a repeal of IPAB, which is an independent board designed to cut spending in Medicare. Some consumer groups don't like it. That is repealed in this bil


    And, John, there's even more. I feel like some strange game show host. This bill would raise the debt ceiling another year, until 2019. That's incredibly significant. And it would also form a new budget supercommittee. That's a word we haven't heard in a while, when the last super committee didn't complete its mission.

    The idea here is to try and reform the entire budget process. It's a nonbinding committee, but there are ways in which whatever they come up with could get a vote.

    I think the big point, John, here, is folks haven't really seen this bill yet. They're still working on a summary on the Senate side. And we expect a vote potentially within hours, maybe tomorrow morning, on the Senate side. It's quite a lot that's in here.

  • John Yang:

    We have got about 30 seconds left, Lisa.

    Explain to us the significance of pulling off those budget caps for two years, which is what the Senate deal would do.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    It's incredibly significant. I ran the math on this, John, and essentially, based on current law, this would be a double-digit, over 10 percent increase in government spending, an expansion of the U.S. military, and also an expansion of much of the rest of government.

    It would protect the arts, sciences, social programs, some of them that the Democrats have been worried about. But it would also be a big boost to the military. Of course, there's a lot of concern about all that red ink as well.

  • John Yang:

    Lisa Desjardins, everything you could possibly want to know about the Senate budget deal.

    Thanks a lot.

  • Lisa Desjardins:

    My pleasure.

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