Thu, 15 Nov 2018

After Rand Paul holds up vote, Trump signs budget deal

By Sheetal Sukhija, Bahrain News
10 Feb 2018, 05:53 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - Ending the brief government shutdown that began at midnight after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held up the Senate’s vote, U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday signed the budget deal.

Trump announced the signing of the congressional deal to fund the government on Twitter on Friday morning.

Signing the deal immediately after the House delivered the bill to him from Congress, Trump tweeted, “Just signed Bill. Our Military will now be stronger than ever before. 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!"

On Thursday night, the Congress could not reach a deal to fund the government until early Monday morning after Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) held up the Senate's vote in opposition to the plan's revenue hikes, expressing worries that it would balloon deficits. 

While Paul had called for a vote on an amendment to effectively roll back those hikes, the leadership did not agree.

He said, ”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.”

Paul’s move, which led to five and a half hours of a government shutdown was criticized by his GOP colleagues, since he derailed what was initially expected to be a relatively smooth path for the budget deal in the Senate.

Calling Paul’s move “grossly irresponsible,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he refused to "reward bad behavior" and give Paul a vote. 

The Senate eventually voted on the plan after midnight, sending the bill to the House.

The bill was later passed by the House in a 240-186 vote around 5:30 a.m. Friday, despite opposition from Democrats.

The sweeping budget deal passed by Congress sets the stage to boost federal spending for both defense and non-defense programs by $300 billion over the next two years.

The deal will also suspend the debt ceiling for one year, knocking two major to-do items off lawmakers’ list.

Now, the bill will fund the government until March 23.

This gives the House and Senate Appropriations panels enough time to craft the massive $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund federal agencies until September 30.

The deal includes nearly $90 billion for disaster relief, $6 billion to address the opioid crisis, a four-year extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program and more than $7 billion for community health centers.

Yet, it doesn’t include a fix for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program - setting the stage for an immigration battle over the next few days.

Efforts made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), who had, for months tried to find a resolution of the fight over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to the budget caps negotiations failed even though she urged her members to oppose the bill.

The bipartisan package, which came after months of closed-door talks, was eventually backed by 73 Democrats.

Following the House vote, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said, “She didn’t have a cohesive message… and at the end of the day, her team broke. It’s a fascinating display of a bipartisan win and at the same time, Democrats ripping themselves apart about a bipartisan agreement. It doesn’t make any damn sense.”

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) meanwhile said, “This is a great victory for our men and women in uniform. Republicans and Democrats joined together to finally give our troops the resources and our generals the certainty to plan for the future.”

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who helped craft the deal along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) and House leaders also claimed victory.

Schumer said, “What makes Democrats proudest of this bill is that after a decade of cuts to programs that help the middle class, we have a dramatic reversal. Funding for education, infrastructure, fighting drug abuse, and medical research will all, for the first time in years, get very significant increases, and we have placed Washington on a path to deliver more help to the middle class in the future.”

Meanwhile, after signing the bill and confirming the same on Twitter, in his subsequent tweets, Trump framed the plan as an imperfect deal that could have been better if Congress had larger Republican majorities.

Trump wrote, “Without more Republicans in Congress, we were forced to increase spending on things we do not like or want in order to finally, after many years of depletion, take care of our Military. Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage. Must elect more Republicans in 2018 Election!"

He added, "Costs on non-military lines will never come down if we do not elect more Republicans in the 2018 Election, and beyond. This Bill is a BIG VICTORY for our Military, but much waste in order to get Dem votes. Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!"

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