Congress Ends Shutdown, Allows Spending Increases
Update: The House of Representatives voted 240-186 to approve the joint funding and budget bill the Senate already passed shortly after 5:30 a.m.
Seventy-three Democrats joined 167 Republicans to put the bill over the top and send it to the of desk President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it shortly, ending the second government shutdown of 2018 only hours after it began.
The fiscal concerns of conservative budget-hawks like House Freedom Caucus members Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) and the immigration concerns of liberal open-borders advocates like Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) were not enough to prevent the bill’s passage. In all, 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted against the bill.
Earlier, the U.S. Senate voted to fund the government through March 23, potentially setting up an end to the new shutdown only hours after it began at midnight.
Attempts to avert a shutdown altogether failed when deficit hawk Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) refused to allow a vote to end debate on the funding bill that is also tied to a two-year budget that does little to rein in federal spending. Paul objected to the budget’s removal of certain spending caps and its raising of the debt ceiling.
“I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama’s trillion-dollar deficits,” Paul said on the Senate floor as he unsuccessfully proposed amendments and prevented the Senate from passing the bill by midnight and avoiding a second government shutdown of 2018. “Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits. I can’t in all honesty look the other way.”
When the Senate reconvened around 1 a.m., it voted 71-28 first to end debate and then passed the bill, which allows for $300 billion dollars in new spending.
The House of Representatives is expected to take up the bill sometime after 3 a.m. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) will likely not be able to count on all Republicans in his conference to vote for the bill, as budget hawks in that body are expected to echo Paul’s objections. Ryan may need votes from a number of Democrats, who will be under immense pressure not to vote for a bill that does not provide amnesty to illegal aliens.
Ryan issued a statement commending the Senate after it voted to pass the bill:
I am pleased the Senate took action to move this critical legislation with a big, bipartisan vote. The Bipartisan Budget Act includes vital disaster relief money and funding for community health centers, and it repeals Obamacare’s destructive Independent Payment Advisory Board. Most importantly, after years of underfunding and budget uncertainty, this agreement fully funds our military at the level requested by Secretary Mattis and our generals. We will finally be able to get our brave men and women in uniform the resources they need to do their jobs safely and efficiently. Now it’s time for the House to do its job. I hope members on both sides of the aisle will come together and support this bipartisan compromise to keep the government open and ensure our military remains the best in the world.
The new six-week funding bill will keep the government running. Much to the chagrin of open-borders activists, it does not address immigration and will provide no protection for the illegal aliens who are slated to begin losing their Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status on March 8 if the Supreme Court refuses to allow an injunction from a California federal judge to stand.
Some variety of a deal on DACA was portrayed as essential in the debate over the last government shutdown six weeks ago, with the White House and various groupings in the House and Senate proposing different compromises involving amnesty for hundreds of thousands or even millions of illegal aliens.
If the House passes the Senate’s combined funding bill and budget, the amnesty and border security issues will likely be revisit when it expires March 23.