WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday is taking up a House-passed stopgap spending measure that would deliver $659.2 billion for defense.
The action comes as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in a statement Wednesday morning that she cannot support a larger budget deal for 2018 without a concession on immigration.
Democratic and Republican leaders had announced progress on a spending deal that eases budget caps for 2018. Negotiations were ongoing as of Wednesday morning.
Pelosi said she favors the pending deal for its inclusion of disaster aid and its treatment of defense and non-defense increases, but her support hinges on an commitment House Speaker Paul Ryan had yet to give, similar to one Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made, to allow an open process on immigration reform.
“Without a commitment from Speaker Ryan comparable to the commitment from Leader McConnell, this package does not have my support,” she said.
The GOP-drafted continuing resolution, with defense spending, passed the House 245-182 on Tuesday, mostly along party lines. This fifth funding patch would extend government spending through March 23.
Senate Democrats, who have insisted increases for defense be matched for domestic programs are are opposing the bill, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday. Schumer, D-N.Y., was upbeat as he and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., were making “very good progress” in negotiations.
The Senate’s goal is reportedly to strip out the CR’s defense language and include language to raise the defense caps by $80 billion and $63 billion for non-defense. It’s unclear whether the bill would raise the debt ceiling, which Congress has until mid-March to do.
Fiscal conservatives may oppose a massive spending bill, as Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks, who’s a member House Freedom Caucus and House Armed Services Committee, signaled in a floor speech Wednesday.
“The Senate spending bill is a debt junky’s dream, a nightmare, and a misstep that plunges America into disaster. It must not pass,” Brooks said.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.