Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
World | By Paul Elliott

US government shuts down after Senate's failure to vote on budget deal

US government shuts down after Senate's failure to vote on budget deal

Paul's dissent dragged the Senate proceedings into the wee hours past the deadline, underscoring the persistent inability of Congress and Trump to deal efficiently with Washington's most basic fiscal obligation of keeping the government open.

Sen. Rand Paul is holding up a vote on the Senate budget deal, demanding more debate on the bill which will add $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next 10 years.

Congress has been dragging its heels on passing a long-term budget deal, which lead to a short government shutdown last month. If Democrats had presided over two government shutdowns in the first month and a half of this year, you can bet that Republicans and their echo chamber would never let that die, and Democrats should take a page out of their playbook.

Paul said he would only allow the budget bill to advance if GOP leaders gave him a vote on an amendment to restore the budget caps, set in 2011 to rein in deficit spending.

Donald Trump has been criticised for fiscal irresponsibility and failing to deal effectively with Washington's obligations, although the United States president played little role in the Senate-crafted bill. All in all, 67 House Republicans didn't vote for the plan, which forced Speaker Paul Ryan to hope that a sizeable number of the 193 House Democrats would put aside their anger at the exclusion of DACA protections from the deal.

While Paul was labelled irresponsible by many, he was in fact expressing mounting concern within the Republican ranks about fiscal profligacy. Three weeks ago, Senate Democrats dug in and chose to use a deadline to try to force Republicans to work with them on a deal for "Dreamer" immigrants, whose protections from deportation are due to expire in March. "Now we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits".

"Just signed Bill", he wrote. The House was expected to vote in the hours following.

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

The legislation stalled in the Senate Thursday night, missing the midnight deadline when Republican Senator Rand Paul from Kentucky refused to vote on time because he wanted to reverse spending increases.

The shutdown could be brief if the House acts before daybreak to approve the package from the Senate which would prevent any practical interruption in federal government business.

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

Dreamers were shielded from deportation under the Obama-era programme called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Daca).

House Democratic leaders opposed the measure - arguing it should resolve the plight of immigrant "Dreamers" who face deportation after being brought to the US illegally as children - but not with all their might. And anytime Republicans and Democrats agree on anything these days, some measure of praise is in order.

The budget bill would not only stave off a shutdown, but would extend the government's debt ceiling until March 2019.

The Senate voted 71-28 in favor of the spending deal, which adds hundreds of billions of federal dollars to the military, domestic programs and disaster relief.

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