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Government shuts down a second time when Rand Paul holds up vote - KTVQ.com | Q2 | Continuous News Coverage | Billings, MT

Government shuts down a second time when Rand Paul holds up vote on funding bill

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At midnight the federal government shut down for the second time in two weeks, after government funding expired, after Sen. Rand Paul held up the vote for as long as he was able to under Senate rules. For a brief period, the moment, the Senate adjourned in the 11 p.m. hour -- just until 12:01 am Friday, February 9. 

The Senate is expected to take a procedural vote on the continuing resolution (CR) / budget agreement at approximately 1 a.m. Friday. The leadership anticipates it'll get the 60 votes needed to advance the bill in the Senate. After the procedural vote, there are up to 30 hours of debate -- but almost all of that time is expected to be yielded back. Paul, R-Ky., is allowed about an hour of that debate time should he choose to use it.    

At approximately 2:45 a.m. / 3 a.m. we anticipate all debate time will be yielded back and the Senate will move to a final passage vote on the CR / budget agreement, simple majority vote. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate with bipartisan support. 

The Senate passed bill is then sent over to the House for consideration where they hope to pass the bill by early Friday morning, sometime prior to 8:00 am before the bulk of government employees start showing up at agencies and offices for the work day. 

Senate leadership aides say they think they could get the continuing resolution over the Senate about an hour after the House votes -- which means the earliest the House could vote is between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.

This means that a short term shutdown of just a few hours could be over by the time government workers wake up Friday morning.

Paul explained in an interview with Fox News Thursday afternoon why he's blocking the vote on the measure, which includes a bipartisan budget deal to lift spending caps. He demanded that GOP leaders allow a 15-minute vote on an amendment he crafted to maintain current spending ceilings, but GOP leaders did not seem inclined to give him that vote. 

"I'm not advocating for shutting down the government. I'm also not advocating for keeping the damn thing open and borrowing a million dollars a minute," Paul said on Fox News.

Taking to the Senate floor, Paul railed against government spending on everything from Afghanistan to misspent funds diverted from school lunch programs, saying both parties are, "spending us into oblivion." Paul eventually yielded the floor just after 7 p.m., but made it clear, he's a "no," and might be back for more protesting from the floor.

Paul said that he had spoken to President Trump Thursday afternoon about the situation.

'I talked to him this afternoon," he said. "We had a good conversation. I told him to call up the majority leader, Senator McConnell, tell him that I wanted 15 minutes to have a vote to make a point that conservatives are unhappy with this deal. All they have to do -- I told him this at 11:00 a.m. this morning -- give me 15 minutes to debate, 15 minutes to vote and we could have been done by noon. But nobody wants to have it pointed out what an eye sore this deal is and how obnoxious it is to conservatives to spend good money after bad."

Paul had said he's willing to hold up the vote and shut the government down over his demands.

"We'll see. If they want to stay up until 3 a.m., I'm happy to do it for the fiscal solvency," he said.

Congress is aiming to prevent a government shutdown on Friday by passing a new spending bill by Thursday at midnight. The House had already voted on a short-term funding measure, known as a continuing resolution (CR), earlier this week that also expired March 23, but provided a boost in funding to the Pentagon through September.

The measures will not provide a fix for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Nor will they increase border security or provide funding for a southern border wall.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced they had reached a bipartisan two-year budget deal that doesn't fund the government, but lifts spending limits imposed on the military and non-defense domestic programs. The deal raises those caps, which were set by a 2011 law, by about $300 billion through fiscal 2019, which ends Sept. 30, 2019.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced on the floor Wednesday that she will oppose the budget deal unless Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., commits to holding a floor vote on legislation that would protect so-called "Dreamers."

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