By Jordain Carney
May 04, 2017
The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion funding bill Thursday, averting a government shutdown for a second time in as many weeks.
Senators voted 79-18 on the bill, which will fund the government through September. No Democrats voted against it.
The legislation passed the House on Wednesday and now heads to President Trump’s desk.
The bill’s passage was relatively drama-free, with senators agreeing to speed up a vote on the bill so they could leave town Thursday and avoid a 60-vote procedural hurdle.
But a group of libertarian-leaning and fiscally conservative Republicans bucked leadership and voted against the legislation.
“The package is way beyond our caps. We are utilizing OCO just to totally violate the budget caps. It’s not just something I can support,” he told reporters.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added separately that Democrats “cleaned our clock” in the negotiations.
“There are things in this bill that I just don’t understand. This is not winning from the Republican point of view,” he told CNN.
Republicans had to make significant concessions to Democrats to reach an agreement. The threat of a filibuster in the Senate and conservative opposition in the House meant that they had to lean on Democrats to pass the legislation even though they have the first unified GOP government in a decade.
Democrats are claiming the spending bill as an early win in the Trump era, noting they kept roughly 160 “poison pills” out of the bill.
“If the four corners … work as well on the 2018 [bill] as on the 2017 budget, we will have a product we can be proud of with no worries of a government shutdown,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, told reporters that the government funding bill turned out to be “a heck of a lot better than it looked like it was going to be in January.”
The legislation doesn’t include some of the administration’s top priorities, including money for Trump’s border wall or funding restrictions on Planned Parenthood or “sanctuary cities” that violate federal immigration law.
But the Democrats’ victory laps appeared to rankle the White House, who scrambled to claim the funding deal as a win for the administration.
Trump’s Budget chief Mick Mulvaney spent the majority of a briefing with White House reporters Tuesday detailing how the administration won the negotiations and Democrats were overplaying their hand.
“They are trying to claim victory, mostly because they have to. They know the truth of what’s in the bill,” he said. “And I’m sure some of them are scared to death of you actually knowing what’s in this bill.”
He added that Democrats “didn’t get what many of them, including many in their base, wanted” and “the real winners are the American people and the president.”
The White House and congressional leadership touted the boost in border security and defense funding, which included an extra $15 billion for the military. That’s half of the $30 billion the administration requested in a supplemental bill it sent to Congress earlier this year.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) argued that the legislation included a number of “conservative wins” that wouldn’t have been possible without GOP majorities in Congress and a Republican administration.
“As I’ve outlined several times this week, the legislation includes other conservative priorities as well. Importantly it achieves these things while conforming to spending caps and reducing bureaucracy,” he said ahead of Thursday’s vote.
Democrats wanted to include key ObamaCare insurance payments in the bill after Trump threatened to stop issuing the cost-sharing reduction payments, which help offset costs for low-income consumers, to try to force Democrats to negotiate on ObamaCare.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the payments wouldn’t be included in the funding bill, but the administration assured lawmakers the payments would continue for now.
Lawmakers will face another high-stakes funding bill in the fall, with the administration expected to make another push to get money for the border wall included in the legislation.
Trump signaled the looming fight this week, backing a shutdown or going “nuclear” to change the Senate’s rules on legislation.
“Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!” he tweeted.
Most Republicans in Congress, however, remember the 2013 shutdown and are eager to avoid another one while they are in control of government.
“Our voters, the people who elected Republican majorities in both Houses and elected this president, did not vote for us in order to shut down the government. They voted for us to govern, as hard as it is,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the no. 2 Senate Republican, said in the wake of Trump’s tweet.
The government closed in 2013 for 16 days over a push by conservatives to use the funding bill to defund ObamaCare, a move that was considered a nonstarter by Democrats and the Obama administration.
Respondents to an ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in October 2013 found that 53 percent of Americans blamed Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, compared to 29 percent who blamed then-President Obama.
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