Senate passes budget bill to end U.S. government shutdown

As the Budget Vote Nears the House Remains a Bitter Tossup
All eyes on House Dems as Congress readies vote on budget
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12 February, 2018

The Republicans took the support of House Democrats to clear the bill with 240-186 votes, CNN reported. Regardless of the wisdom of his methods, the Kentucky senator was exactly right that, with this deal, the majority of the GOP has proved itself willing to forfeit the party's supposed commitment to fiscal responsibility in order to obtain increased military spending.

The shutdown, which started at midnight, was the second this year under the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump, who played little role in attempts by party leaders earlier this week to head it off and end months of fiscal squabbling.

For all of Trump's outbursts, cheers for a shutdown and determination that an egregious immigration bill be tied to the budget, Mitch McConnell ultimately ignored him.

The budget deal would boost military and domestic spending by $300 billion over two years, lift the debt ceiling until March 2019, and provide $90 billion in funding for disaster aid, the opioid crisis and other programs. Such debt limit votes are usually enormous headaches for GOP leaders, but the increase means another vote won't occur before March 2019.

With America back on track with $1 trillion a year budget deficits, it's unsurprising that President Trump made no mention of the national debt or the budget in his State of the Union address. Rand Paul of Kentucky delayed a vote on the bill - resulting in a brief government shutdown just weeks after a three-day closure in January.

The bill contains $165bn of additional defence spending and $131bn in domestic spending, including funding for healthcare, infrastructure and tackling the U.S. opioid crisis, reports Reuters news agency.

But while many of his colleagues fumed, he had a point - at least from the point of view of traditional Republicans.

None of the added spending will be offset by budget savings elsewhere or revenue increases, relying instead on government borrowing. There also is no offset reduction for almost $90 billion in new disaster aid for US states and territories ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires previous year.

Obama-era guarantees for those immigrants were cancelled by US President Donald Trump and are set to become invalid next month.

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"We support funding for our military, but growing the size of government by 13 percent adds to the swamp instead of draining it". Essential staff would continue to work Friday morning regardless. He had harsh words for his own party.

"Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits".

"But really, who's to blame?"

"We will effectively shut down the federal government for no good reason", said Senator John Cornyn, as his requests to move to a vote were repeatedly rejected by Mr Paul.

"I ran for office because I was critical of President Obama's trillion-dollar deficits", Paul said on the floor.

The Senate has passed a massive, bipartisan budget agreement and spending bill to reopen the shuttered federal government.

"[Pelosi] is always very persuasive but she wasn't trying to persuade", said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond.

The Democrats who voted "no", including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, were taking a stand for so-called Dreamers, young undocumented immigrants brought to U.S.as children who are facing the prospect of deportation without legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.


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