White House, Democrats claim victory in budget deal

Congress strikes budget deal, shutdown averted
Congress strikes budget deal, shutdown averted

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Congress strikes budget deal, shutdown averted 01:57

Story highlights

  • Both sides of the aisle are trumpeting accomplishments in a new spending resolution
  • Still, many of the White House's requests were not met

(CNN)The White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill both took a victory lap Monday after congressional negotiators reached a budget deal Sunday night to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year.

Democrats on Capitol Hill rejoiced, pointing to the lack of funding for Trump's proposed wall on the Mexican border and increases in domestic spending -- rather than the massive cuts Trump had proposed -- as a victory for Democrats and a blow to the President.
Meanwhile, the White House touted a double-digit, multibillion-dollar increase in military spending and $1.5 billion in border security funding as political wins.
"I think it's great that the Democrats like the bill. That's fantastic," OMB Director Mick Mulvaney said. "We thought this was a really good deal for this administration as well. Everything that we got in this deal (Sunday) -- last night -- lines up perfectly with the President's priorities."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the $1.1 trillion funding deal a "very good deal for the American people," while House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi hailed the budget as a "sharp contrast" to Trump's proposals to gut many domestic programs.
The spending agreement was the first major piece of bipartisan legislation to emerge since Trump was sworn in as President, and leaders on both sides pointed to the deal not only as a political victory, but also as a successful exercise in bipartisanship.
"We now have an agreement that both sides should support," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, praising the negotiations as "bipartisan and bicameral every step of the way."
But if bipartisanship was the end result, it was a split in priorities between some Republicans on Capitol Hill and the White House that boosted Democrats' negotiating position -- allowing the minority party in both chambers to come out with an increase in some domestic spending priorities and successfully withhold funding for Trump's signature border wall proposal.
"There were a lot of Republicans who wanted increased funding for" the National Institutes of Health, Schumer told reporters Monday. "There were a lot of Republicans who wanted increased funding for transportation and education. I spoke to seven or eight Republicans who told me they were against the wall. So, we knew we had leverage there."
Republican Rep. Will Hurd, whose Texas district includes more than 800 miles of the US-Mexico border, was pleased with the deal, saying border security is essential, but a wall without thought behind it isn't necessarily helpful.
"A wall is not a barrier if your response time is being measured in hours to days," Hurd said. "So we need the technology where border patrol can determine if there's a threat to the border, monitor that threat and then ultimately deploy our most important resource, our human resource, which are the men and women of Border Patrol."
Hurd said in an interview on the US-Mexico border in Del Rio, Texas, that he was pleased to see hiring and technology funded in the spending package.
"The details of the current spending bill suggests that we're going to fund both of those priorities," Hurd said. "We've got to use hard earned taxpayer dollars in the right way."
The White House had sought funding for the border wall, but as Democratic opposition to any funding for the project stiffened and Republicans winced at the idea of risking a government shutdown over the proposal, the White House relented.
But the $1.5 billion boost in border security funding coupled with an increase in defense spending still gave the White House the ammunition to trumpet the budget from the White House briefing room.
"We couldn't be more pleased," Vice President Mike Pence said Monday on CBS, touting increases in military spending and a "down payment" on border security. "This is a budget deal, a bipartisan win for the American people and the President signed off on the parameters early (Sunday) ... I think that's a good piece of Monday morning news for the American people."
But not all Republicans were pleased.
"Money goes to Planned Parenthood. Money continues to go to sanctuary cities. No money for the border wall. I think you will see a lot of conservatives against this plan this week," said Rep. Jim Jordan, a member of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus. "I wished we would have pushed harder on the issues I just talked about.
Spicer appeared to acknowledge that criticism, but defended the budget, claiming that even modest victories on defense and border security spending amounted to a White House win.
"Remember, this is 2017 funding. This is something that he wouldn't normally even have had a shot at because it should have been done," Spicer said. "Because the last Congress didn't do this under President Obama, we have an opportunity to get some of the President's priorities infused for the last five months of 2017. That's a big step forward."
"Can you imagine how different this bill is from the bill that President Obama would have signed in September?" Mulvaney said Monday afternoon.
Still, many of the White House's requests were not met. Instead of a $30 billion increase in defense spending, Congress delivered a $15 billion military spending increase. The $1.5 billion more toward border security also amounted to half the White House's request.
And the White House's proposal to cut $18 billion in nondefense programs also got nowhere in the Republican-controlled Congress, with the budget deal instead delivering an increase to some of the very programs the White House had sought to cut.
Several GOP senators, though, highlighted the spending increases to some of those programs.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, both touted the $2 billion in extra funding for the National Institutes of Health, even though the White House had proposed a $1.2 billion cut to the agency for the fiscal year 2017 budget.
Spicer insisted that the increase in border security funding would help the White House lay the groundwork for an eventual border wall and once again insisted the wall would be built.
"Make no mistake, the wall is going to be built," Spicer said. "The President has made it very clear."
But with enough Republicans opposed to the border wall to kill the possibility of fresh funding for Trump's proposal and with GOP opposition to many of the funding cuts Trump proposed, the White House could find itself in a similar position as the Fiscal Year 2018 budget comes to the fore.
Mulvaney insisted Monday the current negotiations had been "bipartisan from the get-go" and promised a "more Republican-driven process" in the future. But he acknowledged difficulties would remain.
"Any time you cut spending in this town on anything you are going to have somebody pushing back so we don't expect that to change," Mulvaney said.