Sen. Rand Paul blocks budget vote, government shutdown looms

Last Updated: Thursday, February 08, 2018, 11:05 PM EST

With a government shutdown imminent, both Republicans and Democrats grappled with internal party divisions as they tried to push through a massive budget deal Thursday night.

  • Senate supposed to vote on budget deal tonight
  • House vote supposed to follow
  • Vote would keep the government open
  • Sen. Rand Paul blocking the vote

Frustrations mounted — and the risk of a shutdown increased — as GOP Sen. Rand Paul held up a vote on the Senate budget deal, saying he can't in "all good faith" move ahead with the deal without more debate.

Sen. Paul said he is prepared to keep the Senate in session to protest a bipartisan budget deal that increases the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Kentucky Republican said he expects the Senate to vote on the budget bill after 1 a.m. Friday and possibly several hours after a midnight deadline to avert a second government shutdown in three weeks.

Paul says he came to Congress to fight deficits. But now, he says, Republicans and Democrats are "spending us into oblivion."

He wants Congress to do audits of each government agency, including the Defense Dept., to cut out wasteful spending, and then pass a proper budget.

Lawmakers are facing a midnight deadline. The deal pending in the Senate must first pass the Senate, then the House and be signed into law to avoid a government shutdown. The deal appears to have the votes to pass, but rules of the Senate allow individual senators to hold up the process.

Paul brushed off pleas from Senate leaders.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says, "It's time to vote." Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says, "We're in risky territory here."

The No. 2 Democrat in the House, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, said his side would support a brief, 24-hour stopgap spending bill to stave off a partial agency closure, but Republicans rejected the offer.

Meanwhile in the House, Democrats and conservative Republicans are both decrying the budget plan, but for different reasons.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is telling House Democrats to "do what you want to do" as the chamber approaches a vote on a bipartisan budget deal that would avert a government shutdown after midnight.

That's according to Oregon Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader. He spoke as he left a closed-door meeting of party lawmakers.

The House would not vote on the budget deal until the Senate passes it. Majority Republicans will likely need dozens of Democratic votes to assure passage, as conservative representatives balk at the increase in spending.

Many Democrats say they'll oppose the measure because it doesn't have language protecting hundreds of thousands of young "Dreamer" immigrants from deportation.

As a result of Sen. Paul's filibuster, the Trump administration has spread the word to federal agencies to prepare for a second government shutdown. 

In order to avoid the shutdown, Paul would have to stop his filibuster before midnight to allow a vote in the Senate and then the House before going to the president.

Senate rules allow individual senators to hold up the process.

What's in the budget deal?

The deal Senate leaders agreed to a two-year bipartisan agreement that sets the stage for funding the government.

The measure suspends the debt ceiling until March 1, 2019. It raises the strict spending caps on domestic and military spending over the next two years by about $300 billion. Those caps were put in place as part of a budget agreement in 2011. It means billions of dollars in new spending. Budget analysts say it will add another $1.5 trillion to the debt over the next decade.

The bill actually only funds the government until March 23, giving lawmakers six weeks to create a longer term budget, but this bill would be the blueprint.


The bill includes nearly $90 billion in funding for disaster relief for several areas, including Florida and Puerto Rico. 

It includes $2 billion to help Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands rebuild their electric grids. 


It will add $6 billion over the next two years to fund efforts to fight opioid addiction, with money going to fund prevention programs and law enforcement efforts.


The bill approves more than $7 billion in funding for community health centers.

It also closes the Medicare Part D "doughnut hole" for seniors. 

It also extends funding for the Children's Health Insurance Program for four years. It was already extended by six years last month.


The bill includes $20 billion in new infrastructure investment.