A bipartisan deal to keep the government funded past midnight hit a major snag Thursday, as a last-minute maneuver in the Senate by Kentucky Republican Rand Paul to protest spending hikes raised the specter of another shutdown.
Meanwhile, the legislation faces uncertainty in the House, where liberals, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, are protesting a lack of protections for illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children and the conservative House Freedom Caucus is lining up against provisions ending spending caps.
The Senate on Thursday afternoon had been scheduled to vote on a budget deal struck by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Paul’s fellow Kentucky Republican, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
“It spends too much money, borrows too much money, and actually we’re going to bring back Obama era deficits,” Paul said of the bill Thursday on Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto.” “I was elected to combat Obama era deficits.”
Aspokesman for the libertarian-leaning Paul said the lawmaker is pushing for an amendment to restore the budget caps. That effort could delay a Senate vote until 1 a.m. Friday, past the deadline for keeping the government open.
“Senator Rand Paul is asking for is a 15-minute vote on his amendment to restore the budget caps,” Paul spokesman Sergio Gor tweeted. “He is ready to proceed at any time,”
President Trump has been urging Republicans and Democrats to support the Senate bill, tweeting that lawmakers must “must support our troops and support this bill.”
The massive budget deal, which includes a stopgap temporary measure to prevent a government shutdown, includes $300 billion for the military. The agreement also adds $89 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-slammed Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, a politically charged increase in the government’s borrowing cap and a grab bag of health and tax provisions.
But the bill still faces opposition from both Democrats and Republicans.
Pelosi — who on Wednesday spoke for eight straight hours on the chamber’s floor in opposition to the measure — said Thursday that she would oppose the bill.
Democrats like Pelosi are pushing for the bill to include provisions for “Dreamers” — immigrants brought illegally to the U.S. by their parents. Such protections are about to expire in early March, a result of President Trump ending the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.
Illinois Democratic Rep. Luis Gutierrez, the leader of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said he also won’t support the bill and predicted other Democrats would also vote no.
“So today, they are going to bring over from the Senate a proposal, they are going to lift the caps and they’re going to say, let’s vote on our budget. Well, I say to everybody — don’t collude with this administration,” Gutierrez said. “Vote against the budget.”
The House Freedom Caucus, the chamber’s fiscally conservative wing, also opposes the bill out of concerns that it would lead to more government spending.
“The … caucus opposes the deal to raise spending caps on discretionary spending by nearly $300 billion over two years,” the roughly 30-member group said Wednesday. “We support funding for our military, but growing the size of government by 13 percent adds to the swamp instead of draining it. This is not what the American people sent us here to do.”
On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan gave his full support to the bill to try to rally others in chamber to also vote yes — saying the military is at risk without the money, while acknowledging the deal includes partisan compromises and isn’t perfect.
“This is a bipartisan bill,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “On the net, this is a very good solution.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.