Senate passes bill to end shutdown, sending it to House

Senate passes bill to end shutdown, sending it to House
© Getty

The Senate cleared a budget deal early Friday morning after Congress missed a deadline to prevent the second government shutdown in less than a month.

Senators voted 71-28 to pass the agreement after Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans Democratic congressman calls for study of effects of sex-trafficking law McConnell says he's 'honored' to be WholeFoods Magazine's 2019 'Person of the Year' MORE (R-Ky.) delayed the legislation past midnight, sparking a brief partial closure.

The House is expected to vote on the measure later Friday morning. Passage is not assured, as Democrats are demanding a commitment from Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse Ethics Committee informs Duncan Hunter he can no longer vote after guilty plea Duncan Hunter pleads guilty after changing plea Trump campaign steps up attacks on Biden MORE (R-Wis.) for a vote on immigration. A number of conservative Republicans are also expected to oppose the bill.

The latest notice from Rep. Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseRepublicans disavow GOP candidate who said 'we should hang' Omar Nunes accuses Democrats of promoting 'conspiracy theories' Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE's (R-La.) office predicated a vote to occur "very roughly" between 3-5 a.m. on Friday.

The deal includes new budgetary ceilings for two years that would increase spending on defense and nondefense programs. It raises the debt ceiling until March 2019 and provides more than $89 billion in relief for a spate of recent hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters.

The bill also includes a stopgap measure that, if it passes the House, would allow the government to quickly reopen and be funded through March 23.

ADVERTISEMENT

The White House Office of Management and Budget said late Thursday that it had directed federal agencies to prepare for a lapse in funding as the budget deal stalled in the Senate.

The middle-of-the-night floor drama comes after Paul derailed what was expected to be a relatively smooth path for the budget deal in the Senate, prompting backlash from his GOP colleagues.

The libertarian-leaning Kentucky Republican demanded a vote on an amendment that would keep lower budgetary ceilings in place, preventing an increase in spending.

"I have been offering all day to vote. I would like nothing more than to vote. But it's the other side. It's the leadership that has refused to allow any amendments," he said. 

Leadership said giving into Paul's demand would risk a wellspring of similar requests from senators on both sides of the aisle.

"Frankly, there are lots of amendments on my side, and it's hard to make an argument that if one gets an amendment, that everybody else won't want an amendment, and then we'll be here for a very long time," said Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.), pleading with Paul from the Senate floor to speed up the vote.

As Paul rejected pleas from Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic challenger to Joni Ernst releases ad depicting her as firing gun at him Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days The case for censuring, and not impeaching, Donald Trump MORE (Ky.) and other GOP senators that he end his protest, leadership appeared to dig in against his request for a vote on his amendment.

"I don't think shutdowns work for anybody. The Schumer shutdown didn't work, and I don't think this is going to work either," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGiffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Push to investigate Bidens sets up potential for Senate turf war Pressure grows on House GOP leaders to hold line ahead of impeachment trial MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said after Paul rejected several of his requests to speed up the vote.

Asked if they would cave to Paul's demands, he added "why reward bad behavior?" and noted that there were no ongoing negotiations between Paul and leadership staff.

Instead, senators began to trickle back to the Capitol after midnight and eventually approved the deal after 1 a.m.

In the House, leaders began the day sounding confident that they had the 218 votes need to send the bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE's desk.

“I feel good. Part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It’s going to need bipartisan support,” Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday morning.

But as Paul's delaying tactics dragged into Friday morning, opposition in the House, particularly among Democrats, seemed to be on the rise. Rep. G.K. ButterfieldGeorge (G.K.) Kenneth ButterfieldDemocrats likely to gain seats under new North Carolina maps North Carolina poised to pass new congressional maps Black leaders say African American support in presidential primary is fluid MORE (D-N.C.), former head of the Congressional Black Caucus, estimated that fewer than 40 Democrats would support the bill.

House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi 'Don't mess with Mama': Pelosi's daughter tweets support following press conference comments Bloomberg: Trump should be impeached On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading MORE (D-Calif.) sent Ryan a letter on Thursday evening reiterating Democrats' demand for a vote on a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program regardless of whether Trump supports it. 

The program allows certain immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children to work and go to school in the country. It is being phased out beginning in March and has been at the center of talks on government funding this year.

Ryan will need to rely on dozens of Democrats after the House Freedom Caucus, which consists of roughly 30 conservative members, took an official position against the package because of fiscal concerns.

In a sign that leadership expected the vote in the House to be tight, sources told The Hill on Thursday evening that Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court MORE was calling members urging them to support the agreement.

The agreement increases defense spending by $80 billion in fiscal 2018 and by $85 billion in fiscal 2019, while raising nondefense spending by $63 billion and $68 billion in those years, respectively.

But fiscal hawks had balked because most of the roughly $300 billion isn't paid for. 

Rep. Mo BrooksMorris (Mo) Jackson BrooksTrump takes pulse of GOP on Alabama Senate race The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Better Medicare Alliance - Dems unveil impeachment measure; Vindman splits GOP Jeff Sessions calling Alabama lawmakers about 2020 Senate bid MORE (R-Ala.) quipped earlier this week that he's "not only a 'no,' I'm a 'hell no.' "

In the Senate, Paul's tactics represented just the latest time he's frustrated his party's leaders.

In 2015, he and other privacy-minded senators banded together to force a temporary shutdown of National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance programs.

During the heated floor fight, Paul used his leverage to kill off McConnell’s repeated attempts to reauthorize the expiring NSA programs — first for two months, then for eight days, then for five, then three, then two.

But this time, Paul largely found himself standing alone as he tried to force his party to reckon with the budget deal's impact on the deficit.

"When Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. ... The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty," he said. 

His maneuvering drew backlash from GOP senators who argued that his forced temporary shutdown wouldn't keep the Senate from ultimately passing the budget deal. 

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisOvernight Health Care: House to vote next week on drug prices bill | Conway says Trump trying to find 'balance' on youth vaping | US spent trillion on hospitals in 2018 Giffords, Demand Justice to pressure GOP senators to reject Trump judicial pick Planned Parenthood targets GOP senators in seven-figure ad campaign MORE (R-N.C.) told Paul that he needed to "build a coalition" and "make a difference." 

“You haven't convinced 60 senators or 51 senators. Go to work, build a coalition, make a difference. You can make a point all you want. But points are forgotten," he said. 

Cornyn added: "I think people understand this is the act of a single senator who is just trying to make a point but doesn't really care too much about who he inconveniences."