By Boris Zyumbyulev || Staff Writer
Congress passed a budget deal early Friday morning that raises the debt ceiling until March 2019 and keeps the government funded for the next two years.
The deadline to keep the government funded and functioning was midnight on Thursday. The previous spending bill passed on January 22 following the first Government Shutdown of president Trump’s administration. The bill was set to expire on February 8th.
The main reason for the first shutdown was DACA and the lack of any solution to the Obara-era program that protected children who have come to the US as minor immigrants. The new package that passed both the Senate and the House, and was signed by President Trump this morning, does not include anything on immigration. However, the bill raises budget caps by $300 billion, provides up to $90 billion for disaster-relief and raises the debt ceiling until March 2019. Previously, the debt ceiling would have been reached in March this year. In that bill there are around $165 billion and $131 billion that would go to the Pentagon and non-defense programs respectively. And while specific spending is to be determined by the appropriations committees, there are $10 billion for infrastructure investment, $2.9 billion for child care, and $3 billion to face the opioid crisis.
However, the process did not go without drama. The reason for the short shutdown this time around was Senator Rand Paul (R-KY). Thursday evening, while almost all Senators were ready to move with the final vote on the bill, Senator Paul took the floor several times to question the grand spending proposed. As procedure warrants an unanimous agreement to move on the final vote, Senator Paul effectively delayed the process until after 1 a.m.; in other words, after the deadline. According to CNN, his main issue was the lack of fiscal restraint and the lack of an open and fair procedure. Even so the Senate finally passed the bill 73-26. Additionally the Kentucky Senator faced some backlash from his own party, with Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) saying that the shutdown was a “colossal waste of time,” and Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) calling him a Don Quixote for “tilting at windmills.”
Congress took up the bill at 3:21 a.m. There House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi took the floor to argue for immigration and its obvious absence from the bill. However, as Politico points out, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan were generally on the same page for the deal. As such, there was not much House Democrats could do to stop the bill. Republicans had taken a firm stand against any talk on immigration, focusing the bill on the debt and budget. In the end, Congress voted 240-186. On the Republican side, 167 voted for the bill, and 67 against; while Democrats were split 73-119. At 5:32 a.m. the bill passed the House, and it was left for the President to sign it.
President Trump took to Twitter just after he had signed the bill: “Just signed Bill. 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. Also means JOBS, JOBS, JOBS!”
Sophomore Boris Zyumbyulev is a staff writer. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.