FEATURED:

Senate ends first year under Trump by voting to prevent shutdown

The Senate approved a stopgap spending bill on Thursday night, ensuring there will be no government shutdown days before Christmas and essentially completing a frenetic year on Capitol Hill — and the first under President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Arpaio files libel suit against New York Times IMF's Christine Lagarde delays trip to Middle East MORE.

Senators voted 66-32 to approve the roughly four-week continuing resolution (CR), which funds the government through Jan. 19, hours after it passed the House.

Seventeen Democrats voted for the measure, including several up for reelection next year in states carried by Trump such as Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Trump Jr. to stump in Indiana for Pence’s brother and governor hopeful MORE (Ind.), Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillElection Countdown: Dems outraise GOP in final stretch | 2018 midterms already most expensive in history | What to watch in second Cruz-O'Rourke debate | Trump raises 0M for reelection | Why Dems fear Avenatti's approach Dems outraising Republicans in final stretch of midterms Election Countdown: Cruz, O'Rourke fight at pivotal point | Ryan hitting the trail for vulnerable Republicans | Poll shows Biden leading Dem 2020 field | Arizona Senate debate tonight MORE (Mo.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinTrump makes new overtures to Democrats Gillibrand backs Manchin, Bredesen despite their support of Kavanaugh Senate heads home to campaign after deal on Trump nominees MORE (W.Va.).

But leadership, including Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMcConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers Senate Dems race to save Menendez in deep-blue New Jersey MORE (D-N.Y.), as well as many of the party's potential 2020 contenders, opposed the bill.

Two Republicans, Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenators pledge action on Saudi journalist’s disappearance Bernie Sanders: US should pull out of war in Yemen if Saudis killed journalist Senators warn Trump that Saudi relationship is on the line MORE (Utah) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (Ky.), bucked their party and voted "no." 

ADVERTISEMENT

The vote concludes a successful week for Republicans, who on Wednesday finished work on a sweeping tax-cut bill that marked the first major legislative win for Trump.

There were some hiccups along the way with the spending bill, but GOP leaders shepherded the legislation through both chambers on Thursday in part by arguing that it did not make sense to step on the party's successful message on taxes.

Defense hawks had pressed for more funding for the Pentagon. They wanted a deal that increased the spending ceilings for defense, and that would prevent automatic spending cuts scheduled to start at the end of next month without a new measure for the year.

Meanwhile, a coalition of progressive Democrats bucked the bill because lawmakers failed to get a deal on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program by the end of the year.

Democrats lined up on the Senate floor ahead of the vote to demand that Congress pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

"Congress could show some courage and protect dreamers by passing a clean DREAM Act. We have waited too long already. ... So my question to Sen. [Mitch] McConnell [R-Ky.] is this: What are you waiting for?" asked Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenPavlich: The left’s identity politics fall apart Graham: It would be 'like, terrible' if a DNA test found I was Iranian Iranian-American group calls on Graham to apologize for 'disgusting' DNA remark MORE (D-Mass.), referring to the Senate majority leader.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) met with Schumer on Thursday afternoon to urge him to take a harder line in the immigration fight.

But Democratic leadership remained tight-lipped about if they would force a shutdown in the hours leading up to the Senate’s vote.

“We’re not going to address any of those things until we see what the House does,” Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Thursday.

Unlike in the House, where the stopgap bill passed with only Republican votes, GOP leadership needed the support of at least eight Democrats to get the 60 votes needed to overcome procedural hurdles. Speeding up the continuing resolution also required the agreement of every senator.

Preventing the shutdown will send GOP lawmakers and Trump off on their holiday breaks with a successful conclusion to a difficult year in which they struggled on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare. Bickering between Trump and members of the Senate GOP conference was also common.

Still, Republicans will return in January to what could be a difficult set of challenges.

They will have to agree to legislation to keep the government open again before Jan. 19, and also face battles over the DACA program and two health-care bills that the White House and McConnell had promised to move in exchange for Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsGraham: I hope Dems 'get their ass kicked' for conduct around Kavanaugh St. Lawrence alumni, faculty want honorary degree for Collins revoked 'Suspicious letter' mailed to Maine home of Susan Collins MORE's support on the tax-cut bill.

The Maine Republican didn't get what was promised to her in December, but will be looking for results in January.

Passage of the continuing resolution comes after Senate Republicans were largely stuck in limbo as they waited for their House counterparts to agree on a bill that could pass the Senate.

Initially, Republicans were expected to add two bills aimed at fixing ObamaCare, sought by Collins, into the legislation once it reached the Senate. But they dropped that plan after it became clear that it couldn’t pass the House and as lawmakers were scrambling to get on the same page with a shutdown looming.

Asked on Thursday if they had the votes to pass the stopgap bill, Sen. John CornynJohn CornynFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's debate showdown Live coverage: Cruz faces O'Rourke in Texas debate showdown Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (R-Texas) fired back: “Does the House have the votes to pass the CR?”

The president also lashed out at House Democrats in a tweet earlier Thursday, saying they were trying to overshadow the GOP tax bill by forcing a shutdown.

“House Democrats want a SHUTDOWN for the holidays in order to distract from the very popular, just passed, Tax Cuts. House Republicans, don’t let this happen. Pass the C.R. TODAY and keep our Government OPEN!” Trump wrote.

The funding bill also includes a short-term extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), some spending “anomalies” for defense, a waiver for the pay-as-you-go budgetary rules so the GOP tax bill doesn’t trigger Medicare cuts and an extension of a controversial surveillance program.

The National Security Agency’s (NSA) warrantless surveillance program, which was set to expire on Dec. 31, allows the government to collect emails and text messages sent by foreign spies, terrorists and other foreign targets overseas. One section of the law, Section 702, has drawn criticism from privacy advocates because of the potential for U.S. citizens' communications to be swept up in the surveillance.

Congress has offered competing versions of legislation to extend and reform the program, but still needs to work out the differences between the bills.

And a bipartisan group of privacy hawks in the Senate, as well as the far-right House Freedom Caucus, warned that they would oppose including a long-term extension in the continuing resolution.

“Congress should not vote on any long-term reauthorization of Section 702 until both the House and Senate have fully debated meaningful reforms in 2018,” Paul and Lee said in a joint statement with Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenUS to open trade talks with Japan, EU, UK Poll: Dem incumbent holds 5-point lead in Oregon governor's race Trump, Feinstein feud intensifies over appeals court nominees MORE (D-Ore.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Overnight Defense — Presented by The Embassy of the United Arab Emirates — Missing journalist strains US-Saudi ties | Senators push Trump to open investigation | Trump speaks with Saudi officials | New questions over support for Saudi coalition in Yemen Senators trigger law forcing Trump to probe Saudi journalist's disappearance MORE (D-Vt.).

Meanwhile, Paul warned earlier Thursday that he would force a roll call vote on the funding bill because it included a waiver to raise the pay-go rules. But he failed to strip the waiver out of the legislation in a 91-8 vote.

“Calling all conservatives, libertarians, and anyone who believes in limited government: call your legislatures and say don’t exceed the budget caps,” Paul said in a tweet ahead of the vote.

Updated: 8:49 p.m.