US Senate votes to re-open the government

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Washington, Feb 9 (IANS) The US Senate on Friday approved a two-year budget deal that would re-open the federal government, sending the plan to the House of Representatives where it faces a tougher vote.

The Senate voted 71-28, reports CNN.

In the early hours of Friday, the US federal government shuttered for the second time in less than a month as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul prevented the deal from passing on Thursday night ahead of a shutdown deadline.

Paul took to the Senate floor many times on Thursday refusing to agree to move up the time for a vote in the chamber on the bill, which requires unanimous consent.

He slammed his colleagues for “hypocrisy” and lack of fiscal restraint, as well as a lack of a fair and open process.

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“The reason I’m here tonight is to put people on the spot,” Paul said.

“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?'”

In doing so, Paul forced the vote procedurally to occur after 1 a.m. on Friday, after government funding expired.

The text of the deal, stretching more than 600 pages, was released late Wednesday night, revealing provisions large and small that would go far beyond the basic budget numbers, reports The New York Times.

The accord would raise strict spending caps on domestic and military spending in this fiscal year and the next one by about $300 billion in total.

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It would also lift the federal debt limit until March 2019 and includes almost $90 billion in disaster relief in response to last year’s hurricanes and wildfires.

The deal had been expected to sail through the Senate, and the House had planned to vote on it later Thursday, until Paul took his stand.

In last month’s closure, the vast majority of Senate Democrats voted to block a bill that would have kept the government open, only to retreat a few days later and agree to end the closure.

–IANS

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