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Senate passes budget deal with shutdown underway

Niels Lesniewski, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON--The Senate passed the bipartisan budget agreement in the wee hours of Friday morning, with a brief lapse in appropriations having already kicked in.

The 71-28 vote sends the measure to the House, where the prospects are believed to be more precarious. The House vote may not take place until some federal workers are already on their way to work Friday morning.

In the Senate, the delay in passage was prompted by an objection from Sen. Rand Paul.

The Kentucky Republican wanted to offer an amendment to restore the budget caps, but leadership blocked that fearing that any amendments could open a Pandora's box undermining the agreement.

The sprawling legislation passed by the Senate would extend government funding through March 23, raise discretionary spending limits for two years, suspend the debt limit until March 2019 and more.

Paul spoke at length on the Senate floor about his objection to massive spending hikes in the bill, which he called a "bipartisan looting of the Treasury," and his desire for an amendment debate.

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"Are we to be conservative all the time or only when we're in the minority?" Paul said ahead of the cloture vote.

When the Senate reconvened just after midnight as appropriations lapsed, Chaplain Barry C. Black, a retired Navy rear admiral, offered a pointed prayer to start the new day.

"Give wisdom to our lawmakers, remind them how brief their time on Earth will be," Black said.

Senators from both parties took to the floor to criticize Paul's stand and to ask the libertarian-leaning Kentuckian to back down.

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