Congress passes massive budget deal before sunrise to end government shutdown

  • Congress passed a bipartisan budget plan in the early hours on Friday, ending a government shutdown that lasted just a few hours.
  • Democrats were all over the place in a last minute campaign to vote against the bill, but their numbers were not enough in their own conference.

WASHINGTON – Congress passed a bipartisan budget deal in the early hours of the day on Friday, ending a government shutdown that lasted just a few hours.

The deal raises budget caps by $US300 billion over the next two years. Defence spending and domestic spending get boosts from the plan with $US165 billion and $US131 billion, respectively.

The deal also provides substantial disaster relief to hurricane ravaged areas in Texas and Florida, funding to combat the opioid crisis, 10 years for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and a suspension of the debt ceiling deadline for another year.

The bill passed the Senate first with significant support from both parties in a 71-28 margin.

The House Rules Committee convened at 3:00 AM to take up the budget plan, where Democrats pushed for an amendment to tack the DREAM Act onto the spending bill to address DACA. The committee voted the amendment down 9-4.

Finally around 5:30 a.m. ET on Friday, the House passed the budget deal by a margin of 240-186.

President Donald Trump signed the bill shortly after 8:30 a.m. ET.

“Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before,” he tweeted. “We love and need our Military and gave them everything – and more. First time this has happened in a long time. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”

Democrats mounted a last minute opposition campaign against the budget deal

Because the bill did not address the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Democrats mounted an opposition campaign to vote against it.

But House Democrats’ whip against the bipartisan budget deal was all over the place on Thursday. After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held the floor for eight hours to voice her opposition to a plan that did not guarantee a vote on DACA legislation, the Democratic leadership was not whipping members to vote against the plan.

On Thursday, Pelosi and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer joined together to urge members to vote no. After House Democrats convened to hear opposing views on the deal, they admitted leaders were not not urging members one way or the other, but instead were to make their own decisions.

“[Pelosi] is always very persuasive but she wasn’t trying to persuade,” said Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Cedric Richmond.

“There was no attempts to intimidate anybody or shame anybody,” said Rep. John Yarmuth, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee. “It was a very rational and thoughtful discussion.”

Rand Paul’s last stand in the Senate

The vote in the Senate finally came late into the night after Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul spent hours on the floor railing against government spending and what he said was hypocrisy from his Republican colleagues.

“How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?” Paul said. “Isn’t that the very definition of intellectual dishonesty?”

Republicans grew extremely frustrated by Paul’s delay tactics on the budget.

“Do you want to be a senator that wants to make a point or you want to make a difference? You know what? I don’t see how points alone can make a change in America,” said Thom Tillis on the Senate floor. “You can make a point all you want. But points are forgotten. There’s not a whole of history books about the great points of the American Senate.”

“It appears ‘General’ @RandPaul is at it again. He just called for the immediate withdrawal of all forces from Afghanistan as a way to give the US military a pay raise,” Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote on Twitter. “Fortunately, only ‘General’ Paul – and the Taliban – think that’s a good idea.”

In the end, the expensive spending bill left a bad taste in many members’ mouths across the aisle

“I get and appreciate how heartfelt the viewpoint has been. Members of the House Armed Services Committee on the need to plus up on the defence side and those are real and warranted concerns,” Republican Rep. Mark Sanford told Business Insider. “But what we can’t do in that process of addressing those concerns is to discard I think the ultimate measure of national security, which is economic security.”

A guarantee from House Speaker Paul Ryan on at least one bill aimed at addressing DACA could have avoided the last minute scramble, according to Rep. Jared Polis. “Any one of those I think would have removed any jeopardy from the vote count on the final spending bill,” he said.