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Senate stumbles into shutdown, as Rand Paul blocks vote

Senate stumbles into shutdown, as Rand Paul blocks vote

The bipartisan measure, which passed 71 to 28, was now headed to the House of Representatives for what is expected to be a pre-dawn Friday vote, as congressional leaders scrambled to restrict the second government shutdown in three weeks to just a matter of hours.

The US Congress is set to vote on a bipartisan, budget agreement reached earlier this week in the Senate, in a bid to avoid a government shutdown.

Paul, a Kentucky Republican who famously spent almost 13 hours filibustering the nomination of former CIA Director John Brennan in 2013, began to speak just before 6 p.m. Thursday.

If signed by the president, a government shutdown that started at midnight will be brought to an end.

The accord would raise strict spending caps on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next by about $300 billion in total.

The 240-186 House vote overcame opposition from many Democrats and a faction of GOP conservatives.

It seems all but certain that the nonessential operations of the government could shutter for at least a few hours overnight after Sen. Rand Paul blocked plans for a quick Senate vote, blaming his fellow Republicans for being "complicit" in the looming return of trillion-dollar budget deficits.

"OMB is now preparing for a lapse in appropriations", an agency official said in an email Thursday night.

Two reasons: the Senate's arcane rules essentially invite such mischief-making; and congressional leaders waited until the very last minute to unveil their deal, leaving them vulnerable to legislative glitches.

Senate leaders have voiced confidence the deal will pass eventually, although the delays may push a vote to early Friday morning.

The Kentucky Republican, using charts to demonstrate myriad examples of wasteful government spending, acknowledged that he was unlikely to change the outcome of the measure in the Senate, where it was expected to pass.

Trump tweeted Friday morning that he had signed the bill, writing that the US military "will now be stronger than ever before".

More news: Buying the premium stocks in today's share market: American Express Company (AXP)

"Once you've lifted the caps and you've done this, do you really believe that anybody is going to take us seriously?"

The bill has the support of the White House, which has highlighted both the increase in military funding as well as infrastructure.

Government funding will lapse for the second time in less than a month if Congress can not pass a funding bill by midnight Thursday.

Negron told reporters on Thursday that he would prefer the House move its education bill - a priority of House Speaker Richard Corcoran - "through the traditional process" and not through the budget as a conforming bill.

A USA government shutdown began at midnight on Thursday after Congress failed to pass a stopgap funding measure needed to extend current funding authority for most federal agencies.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, said he was voting for the deal after he won special incentives and protections for dairy farmers, an important constituency in his home state. "We must pass this budget agreement first, though, so that we can get on to that".

Over in the Senate, the budget debate sailed through the chamber with a 33-1 vote.

On the other side, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi called the agreement "a good bill" but said she would vote against it because House speaker Paul Ryan refused to promise an open debate and vote on immigration legislation. "I didn't come up here to be liked", Paul said. "But I anticipate that if 30, 40 Democrats vote for it, it would pass".

Republican leaders say Paul wants a vote on an amendment that is critical of the overall agreement but leaders can't give him that vote even if they wanted to, because it requires consent from all senators. "I will make them listen to me, and they will have to have me listened to", Paul said.

The budget bill allocates $4.9bn over two years for Medicaid health services in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, $2bn a year to help reduce the cost of college and $14bn annually for community development grants, Think Progress reported.

The bill, which includes a far-reaching deal that increases spending limits for the next two years and raises the federal debt ceiling until March 2019, would break the cycle of government funding crises in time for what is set to be a bruising campaign for November's mid-term elections.


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