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Monday, February 12, 2018

United States: where does the budget go?

Por MRod

The Senate and the House of the United States approved a budget agreement in the early hours of last Friday, after a delay of several hours that led Congress to exceed the deadline of midnight and force a new temporary closure of the government. Shortly before, the United States government had partially closed again due to lack of funds, for the second time in two weeks.

The budget that the administration of President Donald Trump is to send to Congress on Monday will seek to allocate billions of dollars in spending to areas that are in line with the president's priorities, Trump's budget director said on Sunday. Budget director Mick Mulvaney said the government's budget plan will include $ 3 billion for the construction of the US-Mexico border wall, which the president has made one of his priorities. The official also stressed that there will be a contingency of $ 25 billion reserved the wall for two years if Congress passes legislation to address the situation of young migrants who arrived in the country as children, also known as "dreamers."

Mulvaney acknowledged that the new budget plan that was approved last week will result in annual deficits of a trillion dollars or more over the next few years, but said the government will propose ways to avoid that fate. Let us remember that already at dawn this Friday, the Senate had approved the budget agreement of 400,000 million dollars. The measure passed to the House of Representatives, where the debate is not guaranteed success.

The budget agreement is linked to a bill for temporary financing for six weeks, which is necessary to keep the federal government operational and to give time to implement the pact on the budget. The initiative paves the way for large spending increases in the Pentagon and national programs. After the vote in the Lower House, which went ahead by 240 votes in favor and 186 against, the spending plan went to Trump's desk, who ratified it. The measure came through despite opposition from Democratic leaders, who demanded a pledge to approve protections for "dreamers" or immigrants who were illegally brought into the country as children.

A group of Tea Party Republicans (ultraconservatives) also voted against the increase in spending levels. The federal government was paralyzed at midnight after Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul blocked plans for quick approval of the bill in the chamber. Paul blamed his Republican colleagues for being "accomplices" in the increase in the budget deficit of over one trillion dollars. According to the New York Times, Paul said: “The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, ‘How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?’”

In addition to the expansion of the military budget, Trump's promise, the agreement provides, as the opposition wanted, a comparable increase in other areas, such as the fight against opiate addiction, health insurance for poor children, investments in infrastructure, and a 90-billion-dollar package of aid for natural disasters.