President Donald Trump on Friday signed a $400 billion budget deal that sharply boosts spending and swells the federal deficit, ending a brief federal government shutdown that happened while most Americans were sleeping and most government offices were closed, anyway.
The legislation stalled in the Senate Thursday night, missing the midnight deadline when Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky refused to vote on time because he wanted to reverse spending increases. Paul delayed the vote in opposition to the spiraling federal budget deficit. Now he is shutting the government down for three hours because of the debt.
Paul explained in an interview with Fox News Thursday afternoon why he blocked the vote on the measure: he objects to the inclusion of the bipartisan budget deal to lift spending caps.
The measure would extend government funding at current levels until March 23 to allow lawmakers to finalize details on the spending in a separate measure.
Pelosi chose not to vote for the plan even as she lauded the plan as very good for the party, but she didn't push other House Dems to vote with her. But really who's to blame?
House speaker Paul Ryan urged congress to avoid a "second needless shutdown in a matter of weeks - entirely needless".
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"We have a 700-page bill that no one has read, that was printed at midnight", Paul noted as the clocked ticked closer to the end of the day. Total US debt now stands at more than $20 trillion.
How could one senator potentially cause a government shutdown? His use of Senate procedure is simply delaying the inevitable: Senate passage of the long-term spending deal. House politicians are expected to vote Friday before dawn.
Once Paul time was up, the measure, backed by the Senate's top leaders, sailed through the chamber by a 71-28 vote.
Democrats blocked a stopgap spending bill in January, triggering a three-day partial federal government shutdown, in part to protest Congress' inaction on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), an Obama administration program that Trump ended a year ago and is now set to expire March 5. There also is no offset reduction for almost $90 billion in new disaster aid for US states and territories ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires past year.
What the measure doesn't address is DACA.
Many Democrats support the budget deal, but were unhappy with the compromise because it doesn't tackle immigration - specifically addressing the plight of DREAMers, including the roughly 700,000 immigrants who are in the USA illegally after being brought to the country as children and who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to expire on March 5. The future of DACA and immigration legislation was unclear as Pelosi took the floor for eight hours and talked about DACA and immigration. Pelosi had demanded a vote on Dreamers before supporting the deal. The exchange you just watched was me asking to have a 15 minute vote.
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Sen. Rand Paul, center, takes a brief break from the floor of the U.S. Senate to pose for a photo with Rep. Justin Amash, left, and Rep. Thomas Massie in Washington, DC, on February 8. But proponents, including those from states affected by natural disasters in the past year, spoke in favor of the bill.
Paul tells The Associated Press he knows his protest against the bill is likely to fail, but says it is important to point out that the last-minute agreement could increase the federal deficit by as much as $1 trillion.
Now, he said, negotiations can start on immigration policy. "Once we get this budget agreement done - and we will get this done for no matter how long it takes for us to stay here - we will focus on bringing that debate to this floor and finding a solution". Democrats identified the hypocrisy in Paul's motive, referring to the tax bill that Paul supported.
Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said it's time for Democrats to have "courage". Rand Paul held up the vote for as long as he was able to under Senate rules. "It is as simple as that", Gutierrez said in a statement.
The news outlet added that after the voting in the Senate, the bill would be sent to the House of Representatives.
The Kentucky Republican took the floor to blast the increase in federal spending limits, and in particular the fiscal irresponsibility of his own party.
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