The Senate has recessed until 12:01 a.m., after Rand Paul blocked a vote on a bipartisan spending bill that would have funded the government for the next two years. That means the government will officially shut down - however briefly - for the second time in less than a month.
The bill, which looked like it was going to pass Thursday morning, was set to raise spending caps Congress enacted in 2011, one of Paul's main objections to the bill. An additional $160 billion was added for military and State Department spending, while domestic programs received about $131 billion for things like disaster relief, health centers and infrastructure.
The Kentucky Senator used Senate rules which allow individual senators put a brake on proceedings. Paul demanded a vote on amendments that would keep existing budget caps in place. Paul's main objection to the bill was the massive increase in both domestic and military programs. The spending caps Congress enabled in 2011 would be raised, with $160 billion added for the military and State Department. Domestic programs got their bit too with non-defense spending increased by about $131 billion. The deal would have also suspended the debt limit until March 2019, a political timebomb for both parties.
Paul spoke on the Senate floor, in an attempt to remind his conservative colleagues about their fiscal ideologies.
"When the Democrats are in power, Republicans appear to be the conservative party," Paul said. "But when Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party. The hypocrisy hangs in the air and chokes anyone with a sense of decency or intellectual honesty."
Paul's gambit worked, and thanks to his motion, the Senate recessed until 12:01 a.m., meaning a shutdown of the government is inevitable.
Senators will continue to vote in favor of the far-reaching budget deal in a series of votes scheduled for 1 a.m. The House will likely vote Friday morning, however, the outcome there is uncertain.
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