Congress votes to reopen government, passes massive budget deal

Randolph Lopez
February 12, 2018

President Donald Trump signed the sweeping budget bill into law after it was approved by Congress, ending the government shutdown that lasted around five hours.

The bill was approved by a wide margin in the Senate and it survived a rebellion of 67 conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives thanks to the support of some Democrats.

A majority of Republicans and enough Democrats did, sending the bill sailing through in the wee hours of Friday morning after a spell of drama - and a brief shutdown of the federal government.

A bipartisan stopgap funding and budget package was introduced earlier this week by Senate leaders, who predicted swift passage before the expiration at midnight Thursday. And that was before Paul, a Republican, made public his dissatisfaction with the deal - which would raise government spending, avert a government shutdown and lift the debt ceiling.

But both of Louisiana's USA senators cast votes against the package, decrying the deficit-boosting two-year agreement as reckless spending.

Such disputes won't help the party energize the Hispanic and liberal voters it will need as it tries capturing House and perhaps Senate control in November.

Paul said he was demanding a vote on an amendment against breaking spending caps imposed by a bipartisan budget agreement in 2011.

"Make no mistake, I will always stand up for fiscal responsibility, regardless of which party is in power, and I will continue to call the Republican Party home to the ideas that led to Americans trusting us with government in the first place", Paul said during the debate on the floor.

"Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military".

"I took this position because I was quite critical of President Obama's one trillion dollar deficit", he said.

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Some fiscally-minded Republicans disapproved of the bill's increased spending, among them Sen.

And liberal stalwarts including top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi were also in revolt because the deal does nothing to protect immigrants known as "Dreamers", who were brought to the United States illegally as children, from deportation.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., urged Congress to avoid a "second needless shutdown in a matter of weeks - entirely needless".

Still, it represented a bitter defeat for Democrats who followed a risky strategy to use the party's leverage on the budget to address immigration and ended up scalded by last month's shutdown.

The debt hike, in particular, is giving conservatives "heartburn", said Rep.

There was far less drama in the Senate, where the measure sailed through by a 71-28 tally once Paul's protest ran its course.

"We're not going to get DACA as part of this", said Rep. John Yarmuth of Kentucky, the top Democrat on the Budget Committee.

There also is no offset reduction for almost $US 90 billion in new disaster aid for U.S. states and territories ravaged by hurricanes or wildfires. It would protect 1.8 million Dreamers, beyond those under DACA, but also impose new restrictions on visas for immigrant family members or those from underrepresented countries in the so-called visa lottery program that Trump wants to eliminate.

"Although every big spending deal in Congress has good with bad, the hope is that the good outweighs", said Sen. "I would argue that it's time to vote".

House GOP leaders shored up support among conservatives for the measure, which would shower the Pentagon with money but add hundreds of billions of dollars to the nation's $20 trillion-plus debt.

Other reports by GlobalViralNews

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