US Senate passes $1.3tn bill, funds government till September

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Washington, March 23 (IANS) The US Senate on Friday passed a $1.3 trillion spending package that will increase funding for military, domestic spending and will keep the government funded till the end of September.

The legislation will be now sent to the President for his signature ahead of a midnight deadline for it to become a law, reports CNN.

The Senate passed the bill after a whirlwind day where at least two Republican Senators held up the legislative process and made it appear unclear whether the bill could pass ahead of the deadline.

It passed 65-32, averting a potential government shutdown and funding the government through September 30.

The House passed the legislation earlier on Thursday, voting 256-167 with Democrats and Republicans coming together to pass it less than 24 hours after the 2,300-page bill was made public.

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The Senate needed unanimous consent, meaning all members have to agree, to bring the bill up for a timely vote.

If one member objects, it could force the government into a brief shutdown, which is why many congressional observers were watching Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul, who forced a brief shutdown last month using a similar procedural process, reports CNN.

On Thursday, Paul spent hours criticizing the bill and the process by which the legislation is made public and passed, and appeared to live-tweeting as he scanned the measure.

The package provides $1.6 billion in funding for Trump’s border wall, far short of the $25 billion the White House had sought, reports the BBC.

It also includes a provision that would legally allow the slaughter of wild horses roaming the American West.

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The spending package includes additional money that could be used to fund a controversial New York and New Jersey infrastructure project.

It also contains the Taylor Force Act, which would cut off US aid to the Palestinian Authority until the government there ceases payments to families of terrorists.

In a last-minute addition, it added funds to include the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) for gun sales.

House Speaker Paul Ryan celebrated the package as a means to enact President Trump’s policy positions.

“This bill starts construction on the wall,” he told reporters in a news conference on Capitol Hill.

–IANS

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