Senate passes bill to end shutdown, sending it to House


The Senate cleared a budget deal early Friday morning after Congress missed a deadline to prevent the second government shutdown in less than a month.

Senators voted 71-28 to pass the agreement after Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulPentagon: War in Afghanistan will cost billion in 2018 Overnight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would ‘love to see a shutdown’ over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street group Rand Paul calls for punishment if Congress can’t reach a long-term budget deal MORE (R-Ky.) delayed the legislation past midnight, sparking an at least brief partial closure. The House is expected to vote on the measure later Friday morning.

The deal includes a two-year increase in the budget caps, raises the debt ceiling until March 2019 and provides more than $89 billion in relief for a spate of recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

The bill also includes a stopgap measure that, if it passes the House, would allow the government to quickly reopen and be funded through March 23.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said late Thursday that it had directed federal agencies to prepare for a lapse in funding as the budget deal stalled in the Senate.

The middle-of-the-night floor drama comes after Paul derailed what was expected to relatively smooth path for the budget deal in the Senate, prompting backlash from his GOP colleagues.

The libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican demanded an amendment vote on keeping budget caps in place. 

“I have been offering all day to vote. I would like nothing more than to vote. But it’s the other side. It’s the leadership that has refused to allow any amendments,” he said. 

But leadership warned giving into his demand would risk a wellspring of similar requests from senators on both sides of the aisle.

“Frankly, there are lots of amendments on my side, and it’s hard to make an argument that if one gets an amendment, that everybody else won’t want an amendment, and then we’ll be here for a very long time,” said Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is ‘un-American’ Trump called for unity — he didn’t even last a week Overnight Defense: GOP plays hardball by attaching defense funding to CR | US reportedly drawing down in Iraq | Russia, US meet arms treaty deadline | Why the military wants 6B from Congress MORE (D-N.Y.), pleading with Paul from the Senate floor to speed up the vote.

And as Paul rejected request after request from GOP senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants ‘lazy’ McConnell: ‘Whoever gets to 60 wins’ on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight – House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 MORE (Ky.), leadership appeared to dig in against his request.

“I don’t think shutdowns work for anybody. The Schumer shutdown didn’t work, and I don’t think this is going to work either,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynDems confront Kelly after he calls some immigrants ‘lazy’ McConnell: ‘Whoever gets to 60 wins’ on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican said after Paul rejected several of his requests to speed up the vote.

Asked if they would cave to Paul’s demands, he added “why reward bad behavior?” and noted that there were no ongoing negotiations between Paul and leadership staff.

Instead, senators began to trickle back to the Capitol after midnight and voted 73-26 to end debate on the budget deal, paving the way for final passage.

It’s not the first time Paul has foiled leadership’s plans.

In 2015, he and other privacy-minded senators banded together to force a temporary shutdown of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.

During the heated floor fight, Paul used his leverage to kill off McConnell’s repeated attempts to reauthorize the expiring NSA programs — first for two months, then for eight days, then for five, then three, then two.

But this time, Paul largely found himself standing alone as he tried to force his party to reckon with the budget deal’s impact on the deficit.

“When Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. … The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty,” he said. 

His maneuvering drew backlash from GOP senators who argued that his forced temporary shutdown wouldn’t keep the Senate from ultimately passing the budget deal. 

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA McConnell: Mueller needs ‘no protection’ from Trump Press: Congress must protect Mueller from Trump MORE (R-N.C.) told Paul that he needed to “build a coalition” and “make a difference.” 

“You haven’t convinced 60 senators or 51 senators. Go to work, build a coalition, make a difference. You can make a point all you want. But points are forgotten,” he said. 

Cornyn added: “I think people understand this is the act of a single senator who is just trying to make a point but doesn’t really care too much about who he inconveniences.” 

While the budget deal was held up unexpectedly in the Senate, it now heads to the House, where its passage is far less certain amid growing opposition from both parties.

The latest notice from Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseGOP to play hardball with Dems on funding bill GOP lawmakers help people injured in train crash Google searches for MS-13 spike after Trump’s State of the Union speech MORE‘s (R-La.) office predicated a vote to occur “very roughly” between 3-5 a.m. on Friday.

Leadership started the day apparently confident that it had the 218 votes need to send the bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump’s desire for military parade: ‘We have a Napoleon in the making’ MORE‘s desk.

“I feel good. Part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support,” Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanMcConnell: ‘Whoever gets to 60 wins’ on immigration Overnight Defense: Latest on spending fight – House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 House passes stopgap spending measure with defense money MORE (R-Wis.) told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday morning.

But as Paul’s delaying tactics dragged onto into Thursday evening and early Friday morning, opposition in the House seemed to be on the rise. 

A growing number of rank-and-file House Democrats emerged from a caucus meeting appearing dug in against the budget deal until they get an immigration commitment from Ryan.

It’s unclear how many House Democrats will oppose a deal that includes an additional four years of funding for a children’s health program, as well as additional funding for community health centers and combatting the opioid epidemic.

But Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldBlack Dems take lead in push to impeach Trump Judiciary advances 17 judicial nominees Facebook appoints American Express CEO as first black board member MORE (D-N.C.), former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, estimated that fewer than 40 Democrats would support the bill.

And House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D’Alesandro PelosiGOP lawmaker: Dems not standing for Trump is ‘un-American’ Rep. Gutiérrez: ‘Complete betrayal’ if Pelosi backs budget caps deal without DACA Senate leaders say they’re zeroing in on two-year budget deal MORE (D-Calif.) sent Ryan a letter on Thursday evening reiterating their demand for a vote on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program regardless of whether or not Trump supports it. 

“We strongly believe that members of the House and their constituents deserve the same dignity that Leader McConnell has extended members of the Senate by allowing for a vote on this issue,” the Democratic letter said.

Ryan will need to rely on dozens of Democrats after the House Freedom Caucus, which consists of roughly 30 conservative members, took an official position against the package because of fiscal concerns.

In a sign that leadership expected the vote in the House to be tight, sources told The Hill on Thursday evening that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Latest on spending fight – House passes stopgap with defense money while Senate nears two-year budget deal | Pentagon planning military parade for Trump | Afghan war will cost B in 2018 US expands air campaign to northern Afghanistan Mattis defends plans for new nuclear capabilities MORE was calling members urging them to support the agreement.

The agreement increases defense spending by $80 billion in fiscal 2018 and by $85 billion in fiscal 2019, while raising nondefense spending by $63 billion and $68 billion in those years, respectively.

But fiscal hawks had balked because most of the roughly $300 billion isn’t paid for. 

Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksGOP leaders pitch children’s health funding in plan to avert shutdown Kermit the Frog, Ellen Degeneres among write-ins in Alabama special election Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks reveals he has prostate cancer MORE (R-Ala.) quipped earlier this week that he’s “not only a no, I’m a hell no.”

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