Senate votes to reopen government again after brief shutdown

By Susan McFarland, Danielle Haynes and Daniel Uria  |  Updated Feb. 9, 2018 at 3:01 AM
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Feb. 8 (UPI) -- The government shut down for the second time this year at midnight Friday after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held up the Senate's vote on a bipartisan budget package, but reopened less than three hours later.

The vote to reopen the government was 71-28 with bipartisan support. It now goes to the House, which will vote Friday morning.

Paul's shutdown was expected to be brief and he admitted it was a symbolic gesture to prove a point about keeping Congress under strict budget caps and strip the debt limit from the package.

"The reason I'm here tonight is to put people on the spot. I want people to feel uncomfortable," Paul said on the Senate floor Thursday night before the shutdown began. "I want them to answer people at home who say, 'How come you were against President Obama's deficits but you're for Republican deficits?' Isn't that the very definition of intellectual dishonestly?"

"I think the country's worth a debate until 3 in the morning, frankly," he added.

Senate leaders reached an agreement Wednesday afternoon on the proposed budget, which would increase federal spending by about $400 billion over two years.

Negotiated by Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, the proposed budget deal comes after months of partisan disagreements that resulted in a three-day government shutdown last month.

Trump on Wednesday evening praised the agreement in a tweet.

"The Budget Agreement today is so important for our great Military," he tweeted. "It ends the dangerous sequester and gives Secretary Mattis what he needs to keep America Great. Republicans and Democrats must support our troops and support this Bill!"

The Senate deal includes several Democratic demands but excludes immigration policy changes, particularly the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is something House Democrats may not be willing to forfeit.

Photo by Leigh Vogel/UPI

But House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he believes there are enough votes in the House to pass the Senate's version of the bill.

"I feel good," he told radio host Hugh Hewitt. "It's, part of it depends on the Democrats. This is a bipartisan bill. It's going to need bipartisan support. We are going to deliver our share of support. I feel very good about Republicans."

Ryan said House Republicans are happy about military, infrastructure and opioid crisis funding, and ditching the independent payment advisory board for the Affordable Care Act.

"The main thing is we are finally getting what we call the 'fit up bill,' which is getting the military a budget, number one, but getting the budget they need to actually fulfill their national defense strategy that [Defense] Secretary [James] Mattis just recently gave out," Ryan said.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi delivered the longest speech in the history of the House floor Wednesday in defense of DACA.

Pelosi, D-Calif., exercised her right as Democrats' House leader to speak for as long as she wanted to address the Senate bipartisan federal spending deal's lack of a solution for so-called Dreamers, who benefit from the DACA program that's set to expire March 5.

Pelosi said she and a "large number" of House Democrats will oppose any deal unless Ryan commits to a future open immigration debate.

The budget deal also extends Children's Health Insurance Program and other funding priorities, like $7 billion in funding for community health centers, $6 billion to fight opioid addiction, $4 billion to rebuild veterans' hospitals and clinics, $2 billion for health research, and $20 billion for infrastructure programs.

The bill also would provide overdue disaster funding for hurricane-devastated Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

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