WASHINGTON: The United States’ second shut down in three weeks ended on Friday, after the president signed a nearly $400bn funding bill that narrowly passed Congress only a few hours before, reports The Guardian.
Funding for the federal government had lapsed at midnight eastern time after Kentucky Republican Rand Paul stalled a Senate vote on a far-reaching budget agreement to fund the government through 22 March while also eliminating caps on government spending and suspending the debt ceiling for the year. The shutdown lasted only a few hours, giving the Senate and the House time to pass the 600-page, funding bill.The Senate voted early Friday morning, before sending the bill to the House where its future was less certain. It approved the legislation by a bipartisan majority of 71-28. The House eventually voted to approve the bill at 5:30 AM by a margin of 240 to 186. There were 73 Democrats who voted for the legislation and 67 Republicans who voted against.
Donald Trump signed the two-year spending bill into law around 8.40am on Friday, tweeting: “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.” He also remarked on how Republicans struggled to wrangle their party for votes, requiring them to compromise with Democrats. “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,” he wrote. “Sadly, we needed some Dem votes for passage.”
Paul objected to the fact that deal would result in a significant increase in the federal budget deficit without any corresponding cuts to spending. He complained in an interview with Fox News: “I’m not advocating for shutting down the government.” Instead, Paul said: “I’m also not advocating for keeping the damn thing open and borrowing a million dollars a minute. This is reckless spending that is out of control.”
Senate rules only allowed the Kentucky Republican to block a vote until after 1am on Friday morning.
“The senator from Kentucky by objecting to the unanimous consent requests will effectively shut down the federal government, for no real reason,” John Cornyn, the number two Republican in the Senate, said in remarks on the floor.