US Senate passes funding bill in bid to end shutdown

10 February, 2018, 09:46 | Author: Bert Pena
  • Sen. Rand Paul R-Ky. walks to the Senate chamber at the U.S. Capitol Thursday Feb. 8 2018 in Washington

The agreement would also ensure funding for domestic priorities pushed by Democrats including disaster relief.

In an effort to avoid another government shutdown, Senate leaders Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer reached a two-year spending deal on Wednesday, but the deal seems certain to reach roadblocks in the House. Angered at the huge spending increases at the centre of the deal, Paul, a Republican, delayed passage for hours with a demand to vote on an amendment that would keep in place strict caps on spending that the deal would raise. McConnell attached the massive budget deal to the short-term spending measure the House approved Tuesday.

In addition to long-term military funding, the bill would allocate $131 billion to civilian programs, including $20 billion for infrastructure programs such as rural broadband, clean water, and roads.

"I just can't in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits", Paul said on the Senate floor. "The Republican moral cowardness must end", Pelosi said near the beginning of the speech. There's also $6 billion to combat opioid abuse and improving mental health, $2 billion for research at the National Institutes of Health, and $4 billion for college affordability.

The bill's passage would finance the federal government until September and allow Congress to work on a more robust long-term budget bill, The New York Times says.

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The budget deal is expected to pass the Senate but may encounter difficulties in the House.

White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah said the president is also concerned about spending in Washington, but that the White House supports the bipartisan budget agreement.

President Trump said, "Let's have a shutdown, we'll do a shutdown - it's worth it for our country - I'd love to see shutdown if we don't get it taken care of". The caps deal will likely need Democratic support and some Democrats have been emphatic that they don't want to agree to raising budget caps until they have assurances that recipients of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will be protected.

In January, the United States government faced a three-day shutdown after the two parties could not come to an agreement on immigration issues. If passed, the bill goes back to the lower chamber for approval.

Immigration is not part of the compromise. The deadline for a government shutdown is at midnight, and the White House has told federal agencies to prepare for a government shutdown. Their status has been in jeopardy since the Trump administration announced in September it would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era initiative that has protected almost 800,000 of them from deportation. They don't want ICE to start deporting Dreamers. President Donald Trump, who moved to end the Obama-era program a year ago, has left Congress with a March 5 deadline to come up with a fix.

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