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UPDATE - US govt shuts down after rogue lawmaker filibusters

UPDATE - US govt shuts down after rogue lawmaker filibusters
Lawmakers scrambling early Friday morning to move towards new vote on bipartisan spending bill


By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – Congress again failed to carry out its most basic duty Thursday, shutting down the U.S. government after a Republican senator single-handedly held up a key vote in the chamber.

Lawmakers had until midnight to come to terms on a budget deal, but Senator Rand Paul filibustered proceedings in protest over the proposed bill's increases to the federal deficit.

"A country cannot go on forever spending money this way," Paul said on the Senate floor. "What you're seeing is recklessness trying to be passed off as bipartisanship."

The budget deal had gained traction in both chambers heading into Thursday night with expectation growing that it would easily pass in the Senate.

The legislation would increase limits on defense spending by $165 billion and domestic spending by $131 billion over the next two years, as well as suspend the debt limit for one year. In addition to keeping the government funded through March 23, it also would have boosted disaster aid funding by about $90 billion.

But with Paul's filibuster successfully derailing efforts, lawmakers scrambled early Friday morning to move towards a new vote.

The Senate voted 71-28 to pass the bipartisan spending legislation shortly before 2.00 a.m. (0700GMT), sending the bill to the House for consideration.

Passage was all but assured in the Senate after Paul's filibuster concluded Thursday night, but the House leadership faces a difficult road in moving the budget bill through the chamber. An unlikely alliance of far-right Republicans and immigration-centric Democrats are opposing the measure, complicating House Speaker Paul Ryan's early morning agenda.

It is unclear if Ryan has the necessary 218 votes he needs to send the legislation to President Donald Trump to be signed into law. Ryan earlier acknowledged Thursday that he would likely need some Democratic support to get the bill out of the House.

However long the shutdown lasts, this is the second such funding crisis in less than a month after Democrats derailed a previous spending bill over a lack of protections for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

The immigrant group, collectively known as "Dreamers," have been a central focus for Democrats after Trump ended the Obama-era DACA program last year, giving lawmakers until March to come up with a solution for hundreds of thousands of people he put into legal limbo.

source: News Feed
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