US Congress passes spending bill, ends 2nd shutdown

RSTV Bureau
File Photo of US Senate Building.

File Photo of US Senate Building.

The US Congress passed a crucial federal spending bill on Friday after hours of delay, sending the measure to President Donald Trump to end the nation’s second government shutdown in three weeks.

The House voted 240 to 186 in support of a bipartisan package that extends government funding until March 23 and lifts federal spending limits by nearly $300 billion over the next two years, after the Senate cleared the measure in the middle of the night.

Congress had missed a midnight deadline when a conservative senator refused to allow an early vote on the compromise bill, but now a signature by Trump, who supports the deal, will reopen government offices.

Earlier, the rebellion that simmered among Republicans and Democrats over the bipartisan budget agreement boiled over when dogged Senator Rand Paul refused to allow the Senate to act expeditiously to pass the spending measure.

Moving legislation swiftly through the upper chamber of Congress requires consent by all 100 members, but Paul objected. The Kentucky lawmaker took the floor to blast the increase in federal spending limits, and in particular the fiscal irresponsibility of his own party.

“I can’t in all good honesty and all good faith just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits,” Paul said.

“If you’re against president (Barack) Obama’s deficits, but you’re for the Republican deficits, isn’t that the very definition of hypocrisy?” he boomed, adding that he wants his fellow lawmakers “to feel uncomfortable” over the impasse.

(With inputs from Agencies)