Published: Sat, February 10, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

Rand Paul Stalls Senate Vote To Keep Government Open

Rand Paul Stalls Senate Vote To Keep Government Open

The House and the Senate are expected to vote Thursday on a long-term spending deal, hoping to end the repeated drama of short-term funding bills that have occupied Congress for much of the past five months. At the same time, they have reaffirmed the fact that bipartisanship means a determination to spend us into oblivion. The conservative House Freedom Caucus has already indicated it will not support the spending increases. However, Speaker Paul Ryan said that he thinks he has sufficient support in the chamber to pass the deal. Some of the increased domestic spending would include the following areas: community health centers, an extension of the Children's Health Insurance Program to ten years, opioid abuse, and infrastructure, including transportation, drinking water and broadband internet access. The White House is also demanding funding for a wall along the U.S. -Mexico border, a reduction in legal immigration to the United States, and prioritizing newcomers with advanced work skills.

Republican lawmakers in 2011 brought the USA government to the brink of default, refused to raise the debt ceiling, demanded huge spending cuts, and insisted on a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. Democrats are now running candidates in all but 12 of the 238 Republican-controlled districts.

The deal is the "second-largest spending increase in a decade, second only to the Obama stimulus, which we all know was the biggest boondoggle that you can imagine", Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told The Daily Signal in an interview before pending votes in the Senate and House.

"Lord, folks, there's a lot we have to do", he added.

But on Wednesday, the Republican chair of the committee that controls the purse strings in the Senate said the House's gamesmanship was not right - a sign of the fight to come, and the political posturing of both chambers ahead of the budget negotiating process.

A number of lawmakers who supported the bill acknowledged the deal was not flawless. "We don't want the flawless to get in the road of the good", he told the cable network.

It's clear there will be a solid bloc of Democrats voting against the budget deal, which would provide $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for non-defense above the spending caps this year, and another $85 billion more for defense and $68 billion more for non-defense in the following year.

About $160 billion would go to the Pentagon and about $128 billion to non-defense programs. Conservative lawmakers and free-market activist groups slammed the Schumer-McConnell deal for massively increasing government spending. The Senate wants to jack that up to $629 billion, with an addition $71 billion for war supplementals and emergency funding.

The agreement would increase the government's borrowing cap to prevent a first-ever default on US obligations that looms in just a few weeks.

The agreement is likely to be added to a stopgap spending bill that passed the House on Tuesday, aimed at averting a government shutdown Thursday at midnight.

A disaster aid package of $90 billion for USA areas affected by events such as Hurricanes Irma, Harvey and Maria, as well as the California wildfires, will also be included.

Pelosi wants an assurance from Ryan that DACA legislation will be given floor time next week as McConnell has agreed to do in the Senate.

Trump has expressed support for the measure, taking to Twitter to urge its passage.

The House and Senate approved a bill to keep the government funded through March 23, overcoming opposition from liberal Democrats as well as tea party conservatives to endorse enormous spending increases despite looming trillion-dollar deficits.

Last month, the Democrats forced a partial government shutdown, supposedly to demand that any budget resolution include protection for DACA youth faced with deportation in a matter of weeks.

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