Used to scuffles, Rand Paul takes on Senate, risks shutdown
09 February, 2018, 08:43
But it would be costly to the US budget and would further underscore a fundamental shift in Republican conservative thinking that Paul was trying to draw attention to.
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.
Buoyed by the sudden likelihood of a budget pact, lawmakers are on track to avoid a repeat of last month's government shutdown - though President Donald Trump unexpectedly raised the possibility of closing things down again if he can't have his way on immigration.
The deal had been expected to sail through the Senate, and the House had planned to vote on it later Thursday, until Paul took his stand.
No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Dick Durbin of IL, his party's chief immigration negotiator, bristled at the comment.
The measure - which would shower the Pentagon and domestic programs with around $400 billion in new spending - was destined for overwhelming Senate approval, no matter what Paul did.
House conservatives were also balking, objecting to the enormous increase in federal spending, most of which would be piled onto the deficit with minimal attempts to offset it.
The Senate was preparing on Thursday to vote on a broader spending bill before current funding for the federal government runs out at midnight.
"We will effectively shut down the federal government for no good reason", said Sen.
"I just can't, in all honestly, look the other way just because my party is now complicit in the deficits", Paul said.
On Tuesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly threw fuel on the dispute as he defended Trump's proposed solution.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said it was pleasing that Congress has been able to meet the Trump administration's defence spending requirement and come together on a two-year spending bill.
In addition to Paul's objections, it is also unclear whether enough House Democrats will support the package. Republicans, he said, should be doing more to make overtures to Democrats if they need their votes to keep the government open. But they pointed to money they have long sought for the Pentagon, which they say needs huge sums for readiness, training and weapons modernization. "I don't know why, for crying out loud; why they can't actually govern, is beyond me", Crowley lamented.
This agreement is the result of a fight that goes back to 2011 when an Obama-era impasse over the debt ceiling brought the American economy to near calamity, which ultimately resulted in the 2013 sequester, setting into law across-the-board budget cuts and establishing budget caps that would amount to $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years. It's not our responsibility to do that. The House is expected to pass the bill, despite opposition for much of the Democratic caucus, assuming the bill can jump legislative hurdles in the Senate.
Tuesday night's 245-182 House vote, mostly along party lines, set the machinery in motion.
If passed early Friday, the bill would then head to the House of Representatives. "I want people to feel uncomfortable".
If the larger spending bill does pass, its impact would be wide-ranging - renewing several large health-care programs, suspending the national debt limit for a year and extending billions of dollars of expiring business tax breaks.
House Democrats are particularly anxious that they will lose any leverage on immigration once a spending bill is enacted.
Paul brushed off pleas from his fellow Republicans, who billed the budget plan as an "emergency" measure needed for a depleted military.
Meanwhile even bigger problems appeared to be surfacing in the House, where liberals led by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., were incensed that the plight of young undocumented immigrants who face the threat of deportation was not addressed in the spending bill.
Democrats chose to take advantage of that leverage and merge immigration talks and spending negotiations after President Trump last September announced his plan to wind down DACA.
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