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The Latest: Congress Passes Bipartisan Budget Bill After 5+ Hour Shutdown

by Countable | 3.21.18

After a more than five hour lapse in funding that shut down the government, Congress passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, sending it to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law.

Funding for the government lapsed at midnight as procedural maneuvering by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) held up the bill — which funds the government through March 23, raises spending caps by $316 billion over two years, and provides $89 billion in disaster relief — because of his concerns about the deficit.

After 1am the Senate was able to move onto the bill despite Paul's objections and passed it on a 71-28 vote at about 1:50am ET. The House then followed suit, passing it on a 239-187 vote at 5:30am.

This shutdown comes after January’s shutdown that occurred when Senate Democrats blocked a stopgap funding bill over a lack of action on raising budget caps and immigration reform. Congress now has until March 23 to pass spending legislation for the remainder of fiscal year 2018 or another shutdown could occur.


House Passes the Bill, Shutdown Ends: The House passed the Bipartisan Budget Act on a 240-186 vote, bringing an end to the five and a half hour government shutdown. It was backed by 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats, and opposed by 119 Democrats and 67 Republicans.

The bill now goes to President Donald Trump's desk to be signed into law, which the White House indicated he will do.

House Debate Starts: The House adopted the rule 224-193, and now has up to hour of debate on the Bipartisan Budget Act available to them, which they don't have to use in its entirety.

House Reconvenes, Vote Soon: At about 3:30am ET, the House reconvened to start considering the Bipartisan Budget Act. They will hold a procedural vote on a rule which structures debate around the bill, which will likely be brief. After the rule is adopted, the House can vote to pass the bill.

Bill Passes Senate, On to the House: The Senate passed the Bipartisan Budget Act on a 71-28 vote at 1:53am ET. The 28 senators opposed included 16 Republicans and 12 Democrats.

The House will take it up sometime between 3 and 5am ET, as bills have to be processed from one chamber to the other. In this case, the House Rules Committee will have to meet briefly to structure the floor proceedings around the bill, but no amendments are expected.

Senate Ends Debate, Moves to Pass the Bill: The Senate invoked cloture (ie limited debate) on the Bipartisan Budget Act on a 73-26 vote. It immediately moved to pass the bill and began the roll call vote.

Cloture Vote Begins: A few minutes before 1am ET after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) concluded his remarks, Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) to ask for unanimous consent to begin the procedural vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act. There was no objection.

A cloture vote requires 60 votes and is the procedural tool the Senate uses to limit further debate on a bill or nomination. If it passes, a vote on passage is expected to occur within an hour.

Funding Lapses, Senate Adjourns & Reconvenes: The Senate adjourned at the end of February 8 and reconvened shortly thereafter. Funding lapsed at midnight, meaning that the government has shutdown. The Senate will take its procedural vote at 1am ET followed by a passage vote within the next hour assuming the cloture vote succeeds. If passed, the bill would go to the House.


Another Objection From Paul: Sen. john Cornyn (R-TX) went to the floor to ask for unanimous consent to take the procedural vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act at 10pm ET. Once again, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected.

Paul Objects Again (and Again): This time it was Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) who came to the floor to ask for unanimous consent to take theprocedural vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act at 9pm ET. Once again, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected, meaning that unless he withdraws his objection there will be a lapse in funding of several hours early Friday morning while the Senate and House vote on the bill.

Tillis tried again by offering a motion to hold the vote at 9:30pm ET, but was once again rebuffed by Paul.

Senate Delay Continues: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) came to the floor to ask for unanimous consent to bring up the cloture motion for the Bipartisan Budget Act at 8pm ET instead of waiting until the motion "ripens" at 1am ET. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected again, and unless he withdraws his objection there will be a lapse in funding of several hours Friday morning while the Senate and House vote on the bill.

Senate Vote Delayed: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is delaying the Senate's vote on the Bipartisan Budget Act. Paul believes the bill is fiscally irresponsible and is citing concerns that "no one has read" the "700 page bill that was printed at midnight."

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) moved to waive a Senate rule that requires a cloture motion ― the procedural tool the Senate uses to limit further debate on a bill or nomination ― to sit and "ripen" for one day before it receives a vote so the Senate could vote at 6pm. Because the cloture motion for the Bipartisan Budget Act was introduced Wednesday night, the earliest it could be considered is 1am ET Friday unless senators agree to let it proceed.

Sen. Paul suggested that he would object unless he was allowed a vote on an amendment to reimpose the budget caps that are lifted by the bill. That led McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to suggest he raise a point of order instead of holding out for an amendment, which would've led to other members offering amendments and delaying passage of the funding bill ― potentially causing a lapse in funding during the early hours of Friday morning.

Paul declined their offer, spoke about his concerns, and has concluded his remarks for now. The Senate will now have to wait for 1am ET to vote or for Paul to retract his objection.

All Eyes on the Senate: The Senate is preparing to start debate on the Bipartisan Budget Act, as the stopgap funding bill will be known once the amendment addressing budget caps and disaster relief is adopted.

Earlier, a procedural vote to approve a standalone defense spending bill fell five votes shy of the 60 it needed to be considered. Because the Senate's amendment excludes full FY18 defense spending that was in the House bill, the military will be funded at current levels through the CR until an appropriations bill is approved.

The House passed the Mortgage Choice Act this morning and is in recess. It will return to vote on bills reforming small bank regulations and making it easier to call 911 from hotel rooms this afternoon. Once the Senate passes the Bipartisan Budget Act, the House will take it up.

Congress Returns: Both chambers of Congress are in session, with a long day ahead of them to pass the new budget agreement. The House has resumed consideration of the Mortgage Choice Act, and will then move on to a bill reforming small bank regulations. The Senate is in a quorum call before taking procedural votes on a defense spending bill and on the stopgap funding bill, which will include the legislative language of the budget caps deal.


House Ends its Day: The House has finished voting for the day and will reconvene tomorrow morning.

Pelosi's Speech Concludes: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) concluded her speech at 6:11pm ET after 8 hours and 7 minutes of speaking ― the longest speech in House history.

The House then returned to the consideration of the Mortgage Choice Act.

Pelosi Continues "Filibuster": While there aren't technically filibusters in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has brought House floor activity to a halt, speaking about DACA for seven hours (and counting). How, you ask? Well, House rules allow the Speaker, the majority leader, and the minority leader to speak for an unlimited amount of time.

This doesn't happen very often, and Pelosi has already set a record for longest House floor speech:

McConnell Previews Immigration Debate: During his remarks on the floor, Majority Leader McConnell said the bill that will serve as the starting point for the Senate's immigration debate will be unrelated to immigration, thus giving both sides a clean slate for proposing amendments.

Budget Deal Reached: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) have come to the floor to announce that they've reached a two-year budget deal that increases defense and domestic spending, undoing sequestration's budget caps.

The deal includes nearly $400 billion in increased spending over the next two years, of which $131 billion is for domestic programs and $90 billion for disaster relief. It would also lift the debt ceiling over that period.

Senate Gavels In: The Senate's work day has begun. It's currently in a quorum call, with senators coming to the floor to deliver remarks.

Budget Deal Coming Soon?: White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short said on MSNBC that a deal on budget caps could be announced today:

House Gavels In: The House's work day is underway as lawmakers continue their negotiations over budget caps. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is delivering a lengthy speech on immigration reform from the House floor, reading comments from 'Dreamers', which began at 10:05am ET.


Dems Rearrange Policy Retreat: Congressional Democrats will now hold their annual policy retreat at the Capitol instead of Cambridge, MD so that it's easier for them to vote on a bill to avoid a shutdown.

House Passes the CR: The House passed the stopgap funding bill on a 245-182 vote with 228 Republicans and 17 Democrats voting to advance the bill, and 174 Democrats and 8 Republicans opposed. The bill now goes to the Senate where it might be amended, which would require the bill to go back to the House for another vote.

House Gives Itself "Same Day" Authority: The House adopted a rule allowing it to consider the stopgap funding bill the same day its rule (which structures the floor debate) is reported. The rule passed on a party-line, 236-188 vote with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

Tell your reps how to vote on the bill to avoid a government shutdown using the Take Action button, then share your thoughts below!

— Eric Revell


(Photo Credit: Miguel Aulet / iStock)


Written by Countable

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