Mariah Partin, Staff Writer
In February, the White House, along with congressional Democrats and Republicans, finally approved a budget that the president signed after a very brief government shutdown. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, delayed the vote with a “one-man blockade” according to the New York Times, and was the cause of the short closure, which is being called the least disruptive government shutdown in history. The new 652-page deal includes 300 billion dollars in additional funds over two years for military and nonmilitary programs, as well as almost 90 billion dollars in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.
This past year, the South was hit by a number of destructive natural disasters, and California as well as other parts of the Northwest, suffered from constant spreading wildfires, ruining much of the land and tragically eradicating people’s homes. Supporting President Trump’s earlier promises, there will be an increase in military and infrastructure spending. Senator Paul was against the bill because of the large spending increases, and demanded to vote on an amendment that would have capped spending, leading to frustration for both Republicans and Democrats alike.
The bill already faced trouble in the House, where many opposed the deal as it did not address the young undocumented immigrants in the U.S., who have been protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), also known as Dreamers. Though immigration reform was not addressed in this bill, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan addressed DACA, stating that a solution will be found once the budget deal was approved. House Democrats were divided on this deal, with Representative Nancy Pelosi opposing the deal while also not pressuring other Democrats to vote against it. Representative John Yarmuth of Kentucky, noted that the budget deal met many of their priorities and commented on the importance of compromising.
According to USA Today, the bill includes expanding a tax credit to reward companies for practicing “carbon capture and storage.” This is an expensive process that its supporters say can take out up to 90 percent of the carbon dioxide emissions generated from the production of fossil fuels that result from electricity and other industrial processes. This tax credit had bipartisan support as Republicans liked that the process helps industry extract oil and natural gas deposits, and Democrats liked its potential to reduce carbon emissions. The bill also includes a boost for different health initiatives and more medical research. This includes six billion dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic and fund mental health initiatives.
The bill also increases funding for community health centers to serve low income patients and provide repairs to veteran’s health clinics. This new budget plan, however, fails to eliminate the budget deficit which has been a goal of the Republican party for decades. This large deficit occurs because U.S. government spending is higher than its revenue. The Washington Post reports that Ryan had proposed 4.6 trillion dollars in cuts to eliminate the deficit over the course of ten years, but these changes have not been adopted by Congress, nor were supported by the Obama administration. This budget plan from the Trump administration will call for cuts over ten years, to reduce the deficit growth by three trillion dollars, but wouldn’t be enough to entirely eliminate the deficit. The U.S. government’s deficit is growing at an alarming rate, but the White House projects that, with the economy growing faster, more tax revenue will help offset spending.