Senate passes resolution to keep government funded

The Senate approved the six-month spending resolution to keep the government funded early Saturday morning.

The vote was 62-30, with 10 Republicans voting with the Democratic majority and only one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.), voting against. The vote took place after the upper chamber came to an agreement on other votes, including Sen. Rand Paul’s (R-Ky.) bill to end foreign aid to Egypt, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen unless they met certain conditions.

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The continuing resoluion will now go to the White House where the president is expected to sign it into law. The fundng of the government must be authorized before the new fiscal year begins on October 1.

Paul had been filibustering the Senate for days, delaying action by requiring the maximum amount of time be spent on each vote until he got a vote on his own bill, which failed, 10-81.

Numerous Republican senators stood up in opposition to Paul’s bill, calling it dangerous and irresponsible, especially to Israel. But Paul said he believed the American people were on his side.

“They don’t want to vote for this because they know they’re voting against the will of their constituents,” Paul said Friday on the floor.
 
Republican Sens. Mike Crapo (Idaho), Jim DeMint (S.C.), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Mike Lee (Utah), Jerry Moran (Kan.) Paul, James Risch (Idaho), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Pat Toomey (Pa.) voted for Paul's measure.

“Americans are crying out for us to stop giving out tax dollars to those who aren’t our friends,” DeMint said, after mentioning that Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) wouldn’t allow an amendment to Paul’s bill to loosen the language, which DeMint preferred and Paul agreed to.

There was a fair amount of opposition to the continuing resolution, — H.J.Res. 117 — which funds the government through March. The resolution that passed in the House last week puts the government on pace to spend $1.047 trillion in discretionary spending in 2013, the same level agreed to in last year's Budget Control Act.

Some Republicans opposed the resolution because they wanted to fund the government for longer than six months. Manchin, the sole Democrat in opposition, said he didn’t want to keep kicking the can down the road.

“These continuing resolutions are suppose to be temporary, but it looks like they’ve become a permanent way of doing business,” Manchin said on the floor Thursday. “And it’s a bad way of doing business.”

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Wednesday that she’d vote against the resolution because she would prefer to see the appropriations bill get votes, rather than the spending resolution.

“Rather than consider these appropriations bills, they’d rather kick the can down the road and pass a six-month extension,” Collins said. “It’s still not too late; there’s no reason why the individual spending bills couldn’t be brought to the floor and allow senators to offer amendments.”

The Senate also voted on S.J. Res. 41, which says the United States and other countries have a vital interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) introduced the resolution that had 82 cosponsors. It was approved on a 90-1 vote.

“We know with certainty that Iranian leaders show no signs of wanting to halt their program to develop nuclear weapons,” a co-sponsor, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), said. “This resolution says to the world that the United States and governments of other responsible nations have a vital mutual interest to stop Iran from nuclear weapons capability.”

Paul voted against the resolution because he said it was “a vote for preemptive war” against Iran.

The vote on the CR concluded after 1 a.m. Saturday.

The final piece of business the Senate addressed before leaving for the November elections was a vote on a motion to proceed to the Sportsman Act when they return. The motion was approved by a 84-7 vote. 

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced S. 3525, which combines 20 bipartisan bills to increase access to federal land for hunters and fishers while also supporting conservation measures.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), at the last minute tried to force a vote on the House sportsman package, H.R. 4089, but Reid objected, saying that the House version was much smaller and less comprehensive than Tester’s version.

“If this vote was about sportsmen the Senate would have taken up the House passed bill that can be signed into law today,” a senior GOP aid said Saturday morning. “But that’s not what Democrats picked. Democrats chose to scrap any chance that sportsmen can get a bill signed into law anytime soon in order to provide a cover vote for an endangered incumbent.”

Reid praised the bill for bipartisanship and said there was no reason Republicans should object to the measure, especially since it doesn’t cost anything.

“If you flip through the dictionary and found the definition of bipartisan some of it would be this Tester package,” Reid said on the floor Thursday.

Reid also said Friday that when the Senate returns it would take up a housing bill by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.).

This article was updated at 1:50 a.m.

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