US government shuts down after deadline passes without budget deal

Gretel Johnston, DPA on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government technically ran out of money again early Friday, forcing the second shutdown in three weeks as problems over the cost of the spending plan caused the bill to stall in the Senate.

Senate leaders and their counterparts in the House of Representatives had been working all week toward meeting the deadline of midnight Thursday to pass a spending bill funding the government for two years.

But a vote hit a snag over one senator's objections to hundreds of billions of dollars of additional spending included in the bill.

Senators prepared for a long night as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky repeatedly blocked votes on the bill in an effort to force a vote on an amendment that would keep current spending limits in place.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Paul said American taxpayers "are getting stuck with the bill" as spending levels beyond the amount of revenue are allowed.

The bill, announced Wednesday, represents a rare bipartisan achievement. It includes spending for domestic programs and funding for the military that President Donald Trump has sought.

The bill was meant to avoid another government shutdown like the last one -- a three-day closure in January. But with the clock ticking late Thursday, the White House's budget office directed federal agencies to prepare for a lapse in funding.

The bill had been expected to sail smoothly through the Senate, and face a tougher path in the House.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set the next vote on the spending package for 1 a.m.

If it passes, it would then move to the House of Representatives for consideration -- and potential opposition from conservatives in that chamber who also oppose its deficit spending.

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When McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer announced the agreement on the legislation they called it "significant" and a "genuine breakthrough."

But late Thursday, Schumer was pessimistic as the shutdown loomed. "We're in risky territory here," he said.

Republican House leaders sent out a message that members should "prepare for late night or early morning votes," according to The Hill.

But with hard-line House Republicans opposing the bill, leaders required votes from Democrats in order to pass the bill.

They could be difficult to find because many from the left-leaning party also oppose the bill. They object to a lack of a commitment that the House will consider legislation to protect young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children.

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