WASHINGTON — The government shut down for the second time this year after Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul blocked the Senate from voting on a massive bipartisan budget bill that raises funding caps for two years ahead of Congress’ midnight deadline Thursday evening.
Despite Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s offer to allow Paul to offer a budget point of order at 6 p.m. — which would give him the opportunity to register his objections to the bill while allowing leadership to bring it to the floor for a procedural vote — the senator refused to end his protest until leadership agreed to a vote on an amendment restoring 2011 budget caps.
Leadership objected, noting it would require consent and opening up the possibility for other members to introduce amendments effectively delaying the process.
“The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot,” Paul said on the floor. “I want people to feel uncomfortable. I want them to have to answer people at home who said, ‘How come you were against President Obama’s deficits and then how come you’re for Republican deficits?’”
While the measure is expected to pass the Senate, its fate faces uncertainty in the House. A large number of House Democrats oppose the bill, fearing they lose leverage in immigration negotiations if the Senate’s deal on spending caps passes.
Democrats say they need a commitment from House Speaker Paul Ryan a bill providing a permanent legislative fix to the to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — the Obama-era initiative that extended temporary legal status to foreign nationals who illegally entered the country as minors. House Conservatives have also expressed hesitations due to the spending levels.