Congress returns with just days to avoid shutdown
GOP leaders are eyeing a six-week funding bill that would keep the government’s lights on until March 23.GOP leaders are eyeing a six-week funding bill that would keep the government's lights on until March 23. The measure could include sweeteners like funding for community health centers.
Frustrated Senate Republicans lashed out at Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) Thursday evening for his refusal to allow a vote on a budget deal, a move that could force a temporary government shutdown.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, warned Paul during a heated back-and-forth on the Senate floor that he would be to blame for shutting down the government.
"I don't know why we are basically burning time here while the senator from Kentucky and others are sitting in the cloakroom wasting everybody's time and inconveniencing the staff," he said.
Cornyn added that Paul "will effectively shut down the federal government for no real reason."
House Republicans eye defense spending boost, complicating plan to avoid second shutdown
Still unresolved is the issue of protections for young undocumented immigrants, which helped spark a three-day partial closure last month.House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) pitched the plan to his GOP colleagues in a closed-door meeting Monday. The bill, set for a vote on Tuesday, would increase Pentagon funding by about $30 billion, to $584 billion, breaking existing spending caps as well as making funding available through September. The rest of the government would continue to be funded at 2017 levels through March 23.
Cornyn tried to set up an initial vote on the two-year budget deal, which includes a stopgap measure to fund the government, at 10:30 p.m., 11 p.m. 11:30 p.m., midnight, 12:30 a.m. and 1 a.m. But Paul objected to each request.
Congress has to pass a bill to keep the government open by midnight to prevent the second lapse in government funding this year.
But under the Senate's rules the earliest an initial vote on the two-year budget deal can take place is early Friday morning unless every senator agrees to speed up the vote.
Paul refused to allow the vote to speed up unless he was given a vote on his amendment to keep budget caps in place.
But Cornyn warned after the floor fight that GOP leadership would not give into his demand, saying it would "reward bad behavior."
Trump: 'I'd love to see a shutdown' if Dems don't meet immigration demands
President Trump said Tuesday he would "love" to see a government shutdown if Democrats do not agree to his demands on immigration. "We'll do a shutdown and it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," Trump told a gathering of law enforcement officials and members of Congress at the White House."If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety and, u"We'll do a shutdown and it's worth it for our country. I'd love to see a shutdown if we don't get this stuff taken care of," Trump told a gathering of law enforcement officials and members of Congress at the White House.
"I understand he wants to make a point and he's done that, but to shut down the entire federal government at midnight tonight is just grossly irresponsible," he said.
Leadership had offered to let Paul raise a budget point of order, which would have also gotten him a roll call vote.
Cornyn was the fourth GOP senator that tried to speed up the budget vote but was blocked by Paul.
"You can make a point all you want but points are forgotten. There aren't a lot of history books written about the great points of the U.S. Senate," said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Paul blocked two requests by Tillis to speed up the vote on the budget agreement.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who presided over parts of the floor debate, said the looming shutdown was an example of the "total dysfunction" and "ridiculous" but blamed both sides.
"I don't know why we didn't vote on his amendment. It would have been ... the right thing to do. But at the same time he's not getting a vote. It kind of seems ridiculous to, you know, shut down the government for even an hour or two," he said.
Paul has been on and off the Senate floor outlining his objections to the Senate budget deal for hours.
The two-year budget agreement would increase the budget caps by roughly $300 billion and also raise the debt ceiling through March 2019. It also includes a stopgap funding measure to keep the government open through March 23, which would give lawmakers time to draft a longer spending bill.
Asked about the standoff, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) quipped: "I'm just having a ball. Just having a ball. Living the dream."
Sen. Rand Paul criticizes GOP "hypocrisy" on debt, deficits .
"I think if you're for tax cuts and for increasing spending, that's hypocritical," Paul told "Face the Nation" on SundayLoad Error