As America Slept, the Government Shut Down and Reopened Again

Politics News Government Shutdown
As America Slept, the Government Shut Down and Reopened Again

As most of America slept, a government shutdown that lasted nearly as long as Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s record-setting speech on Wednesday began and ended. Early Friday morning, President Trump signed the bipartisan budget deal that sailed fairly smoothly through Congress once a vote was able to occur.

That vote was delayed until 2 a.m. by Sen. Rand Paul, who took to the Senate floor to express his dissent to the budget plan while demanding a vote on an amendment to it that kept the strict spending caps in place. Paul was vocal ahead of the shutdown deadline regarding the suspension of the debt limit and the $300 billion increase to military and domestic spending caps. Paul refused to yield the floor, spurning attempts by various senators to move toward a vote that was already assured to approve the budget plan. Paul finally relinquished the floor at 2 a.m., at which point the plan was approved by a 71 to 28 vote. The bill went on to pass through the House around 5:30 a.m. by a count of 240 to 186.

Paul’s one-man push to hold the Senate floor for as long as possible was met with criticism from both sides of the aisle. Democrats identified the hypocrisy in Paul’s motive, referring to the tax bill that Paul supported. “Rand Paul voted for a $1.5 trillion hole in the budget. Now he is shutting the government down for three hours because of the debt. The chance to demonstrate fiscal discipline was on the tax vote,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. Sen. John Cornyn, the Senate Majority Whip, called Paul’s action “the act of a single senator who just is trying to make a point but doesn’t really care too much about who he inconveniences.”

While the Senate was always projected to have enough votes to pass the plan, the House was not as sure of a lock heading into the evening. Many lawmakers on both sides had issues with the deal as it was presented. Hard-line conservatives, such as the House Freedom Caucus, refused to vote for the budget because of the inclusion of $131 billion dollars in domestic spending, which they viewed as a waste of taxpayer money. 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.

It was a valid concern after Pelosi spoke for just over eight hours about the plight of the Dreamers and the need to install permanent DACA protections after Trump ended the Obama-era program last September. Many Senate Dems took issue with the divorcing of the immigration debate from the budget negotiations as well, noting it as a major point of leverage. Sen. Chuck Schumer and Sen. Mitch McConnell agreed to keep any DACA arguments away from the negotiations after McConnell scheduled a debate on immigration in the Senate for next week. House Democrats did not receive a similar promise from Ryan, however, and pushed for a verbal commitment to hold a debate on the issue as Ryan reiterated his stance that no plan the president didn’t approve would be debated. “To anyone who doubts my intention to solve this problem and bring up a DACA and immigration bill, do not. We will bring a solution to the floor, one that the president will sign,” said Ryan.

Pelosi chose not to vote for the plan even as she lauded the plan as very good for the party, but she didn’t push other House Dems to vote with her. According to the New York Times, Pelosi told House Democrats that she wouldn’t ask them to vote against their conscience in a closed-door meeting.

After signing the plan, President Trump took to Twitter to boast about the military spending increases and exclusion of DACA protections while stating more Republicans were needed in Congress and lamenting the increase in spending on things “we do not like or need.”

Good to know that, even though Dems are having to take stock of their own internal crises as they vote for a budget plan that includes much of the spending they want at the expense of further ostracizing Dreamers and immigrants’ rights groups and losing their major point of leverage, the president can still be petty about needing bipartisan support for legislation.

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