Congress again misses deadline to avert government shutdown

Congress again misses deadline to avert government shutdown
© Greg Nash

For the second time in less than a month, Congress has blown past a deadline to avert a government shutdown.

The latest shutdown, which technically started at midnight Thursday, came after Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHillicon Valley: Trump escalates feud with intel critics | Tesla shares fall after troubling Musk interview | House panel considers subpoena for Twitter's Jack Dorsey | Why Turkish citizens are breaking their iPhones Overnight Defense: Trump cancels military parade, blames DC for cost | DC mayor hits back | Pentagon warns China 'likely' training for strikes against US | Turkey refuses to release US pastor On Russia we need diplomacy, not just sanctions MORE (R-Ky.) refused to let the Senate speed up a budget deal.

Paul objected to several requests to move up an initial vote on the spending deal to before the midnight deadline as leadership raced to stave off a brief, partial closure.

The Kentucky Republican senator showed no signs of backing down, even as frustrated GOP colleagues lashed out, warning he would be be responsible for shutting down the government.

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"What you're seeing is recklessness trying to be passed off as bipartisanship. ... [Leadership is] holding hands, and there's only one bad guy standing in the way. One guy that's going to keep up here until three in the morning," Paul said.

Under Senate rules, the earliest the chamber could vote on the two-year budget deal was early Friday morning unless every senator agreed to speed things up. With Paul's objections, the Senate recessed until after midnight on Thursday.

The two-year spending deal lifts budget caps by roughly $300 billion, includes an increase in the debt ceiling until March 2019 and would keep the government open through March 23.

The deal is expected to pass the Senate early Friday morning, despite Paul's standoff.

"The outcome is going to be precisely the same. I understand he wants to make a point and he's done that, but to shut down the entire federal government at midnight tonight is just grossly irresponsible," Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynSen. Warner to introduce amendment limiting Trump’s ability to revoke security clearances Sentencing reform deal heats up, pitting Trump against reliable allies Rand Paul to ask Trump to lift sanctions on Russian leaders MORE (R-Texas) told reporters.

"I don't know why we are basically burning time here while the senator from Kentucky and others are sitting in the cloakroom wasting everybody's time and inconveniencing the staff," added Cornyn.

After the bill clears the Senate it would then go to the House, where its fate is uncertain. Conservatives have blasted the agreement for its impact on the deficit and Democrats are increasingly opposed because it doesn't include an immigration fix.

The latest guidance from House Majority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseNew Dem ad uses Paterno, KKK, affair allegations to tar GOP leaders Poll: Republicans favor Scalise for Speaker; Dems favor Pelosi Trump ally suspends reelection campaign MORE's (R-La.) office said the House could vote as late as 6 a.m.

"At this point, we expect next votes in the House to occur at very roughly 3:00-6:00 a.m.," the notice to member said.

Congress similarly missed a deadline to fund the government last month after Senate Democrats protested the lack of an immigration deal in a spending bill, forcing a three-day government shutdown.

Updated on Feb. 9 at 12:00 a.m.