House vote ends overnight government shutdown

House vote ends overnight government shutdown

The 240-186 vote came in the pre-dawn hours, putting to bed a five-and-a-half hour federal freeze - the second such shutdown in three weeks. A budget impasse resulted in a three-day government shutdown last month.

Republican Senator Rand Paul, objecting to deficit spending in the bill, engaged in a nine-hour, on-again, off-again protest and floor speech late on Thursday. But Democrats also had their divisions and wrangling, largely with liberal upset the measure was not tied to any plans to assist the "Dreamer" immigrants.

The measure increases military and non-defense spending by $300 billion dollars, extends funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program for 10 years, includes $20 billion for infrastructure programs and adds nearly $90 billion in disaster funds.

It also extends the US government's borrowing authority until March 2019, sparing Washington politicians hard votes on debt and deficits until after mid-term congressional elections in November. Like other conservatives, Paul said the budget agreement would pave the way for big spending and ballooning deficits, and he said he was willing to force a shutdown to draw attention to the problem.

Once known as the party of fiscal conservatism, the Republicans and Trump approved a sweeping tax overhaul bill in December that will add an estimated US$1.5t to the national debt over 10 years. The majority leader moved to call a vote Monday to proceed to an unrelated House bill that will serve as a vehicle for a process unlike the Senate has seen in recent memory, where senators will be able to offer a number of amendments on competing immigration proposals to see which ones will secure the 60 votes needed to advance.

The two-year budget deal would lift caps on defense and non-defense spending by $300 billion over two years. He says non-military spending "will never come down" without electing more Republicans in the 2018 elections.

None of the added spending will be offset by budget savings elsewhere or revenue increases, relying instead on government borrowing.

It increases domestic spending by $131 billion and defense spending by $165 billion over the next two years, provide almost $90 billion in disaster aid and suspend the debt limit for one year - until well after the midterm elections.

Trump, in announcing he had signed the legislation, contended it will help the US military be "stronger than ever before". Vice President Mike Pence, in South Korea for the Winter Olympics, said the administration was "hopeful" the shutdown wouldn't last long.

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Using his senatorial privilege to block the Senate vote until after the Thursday midnight deadline, Paul went to the floor - to the irritation of his fellow lawmakers - to complain that the negotiated budget deal would push the deficit over $1 trillion.

A prolonged shutdown could have spooked already-volatile equity markets. He had harsh words for his own party.

"Now we have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits", he said.

"I can't, in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits".

"Really, who is to blame?"

"I think the spending in this is reckless and irresponsible", said Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., a conservative who is backed by the tea party. Paul railed against government spending on everything from Afghanistan to misspent funds diverted from school lunch programs, saying both parties are "spending us into oblivion". In September, Trump announced the elimination of an Obama-era policy to protect these immigrants from deportation, setting a deadline of March 5 for Congress to address their status through legislation.

"We will bring a solution to the floor, one the president will sign", he said Thursday. An official who was unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter says the vice president's trip will continue as planned even if Congress doesn't act before midnight to keep the government open.

Earlier in the evening, the White House's Office of Management and Budget said it was preparing for a shutdown, if the stopgap bill did not win passage on time in Congress.

"And it's a strong signal that we can break the gridlock that has overwhelmed this body and work together for the good of the country".

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