The second government shutdown in three weekend began at midnight Thursday but the Senate went back into session at one minute past midnight and quickly passed a sweeping bipartisan spending bill 71-28 and sent it to the House.
The House is expected to vote later Friday morning but passage is expected to be close and winning is not guaranteed. If passed, President Donald Trump is expected to put government workers back on the payroll Friday.
Besides reopening the government, the two-year spending bill gives billions to defense and domestic programs, speeds up disaster aid to hurricane ravaged areas and lifts the federal borrowing limit for a year.
House passage could limit the shutdown to just a blip Friday while a rejection could mean a long weekend for Congress is they have to go back to the bargaining table to find a way to reopen the government.
Inability to come to terms three weeks ago shut down parts of the government for three days before agreeing to another short-term extension. The two-year spending budget approved by the Senate was supposed to end the band-aid approaches that have hobbled the government in recent years but a vote planned Thursday afternoon ran into a procedural roadblock from Kentucky GOP Senator Rand Paul, who brought business to a halt with a demand for a vote on an amendment to express disgust over a spending bill that will drive the government deficit even higher.
House right-wingers added to the chaos with gripes about excessive deficit spending while liberals demanded the bill include protections for the “dreamers” who face deportation by Trump.
Paul angered Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members of the Senate with his ploys and GOP leaders refused to let him offer the amendment but he held the floor for a lengthy period and slowed the proceedings until McConnell adjourned the Senate for the evening and scheduled resumption of business at 12:01 a.m.
The move shut Paul up and let McConnell move to a vote shortly after the Senate reconvened.
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