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US Gov't Shutdown, 2nd This Year, Ends As House Approves Bill

  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. Sept. 25, 2017.

    Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks at a press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. Sept. 25, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 February 2018

Republicans missed a midnight deadline to pass the spending bill after their own senator delayed voting by delivering a nine-hour speech.

The U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate early Friday morning in approving a bill to end an overnight federal shutdown, sparing Republicans further embarrassment and averting serious interruption of the government's business.

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The stopgap funding and budget measure, approved by a 240-186 House vote, will go next to President Donald Trump. The White House said in a statement that he will sign it into law, which would extend government funding through March 23.

The shutdown, which started at midnight, was the second this year under the Republican-controlled Congress and Trump, who played little role in attempts by party leaders earlier this week to head it off and end months of fiscal squabbling.

A carefully crafted, bipartisan stopgap funding and budget package was introduced with confidence earlier this week by Senate leaders, who predicted swift passage before the expiration at midnight on Thursday of current funding authority.

But in an unexpected turn of events, the deadline was missed because Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, objecting to deficit spending in the bill, engaged in a nine-hour, on-again, off-again protest and floor speech that leaders could not stop.

Paul's dissent dragged the Senate proceedings into the wee hours past the deadline, underscoring the persistent inability of Republican-controlled Congress and Trump to deal efficiently with Washington's most basic fiscal obligation of keeping the government open.

"Republican majorities in the House and Senate have turned the (budget) process into an embarrassing spectacle, running from one crisis directly into the next," said Democratic Representative Nita Lowey prior to the House vote.

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