US Federal Shutdown at Hand, But Likely to Be Brief

Exclusive: Pressure grows on Paul Ryan to commit to immigration debate

Used to scuffles, Rand Paul takes on Senate, risks shutdown

The No. 2 Republican in the U.S. Senate said on Thursday an expected vote on spending legislation is being held up by an objection from Republican Senator Rand Paul that would prevent the chamber from proceeding to a final vote by unanimous consent.

Under Congress' arcane ways, a broad-brush agreement to increase legally binding spending "caps" - which would otherwise keep the budgets for the military and domestic agencies essentially frozen - would be approved, then followed by a far more detailed catchall spending bill that would take weeks to negotiate.

"I'm not advocating for shutting down the government", Paul said in an interview on Fox News.

The White House instructed the USA federal government to begin preparing for shutdown on Thursday evening amid an eleventh hour effort by a Republican deficit hawk to delay a vote on a deal to keep the country running.

An angry Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) accused Paul of playing games as the federal government lurched closer to running out of funding for the second time in three weeks.

Mulvaney's notice says federal employees should report to work Friday to "undertake orderly shutdown activities". "It also ensures funding for our other critical priorities, including rebuilding America's crumbling infrastructure, tackling the opioids epidemic and taking care of our great veterans", Sanders said.

In evening remarks on the Senate floor that lasted an hour, the senator from Kentucky said the bill would "loot the Treasury". All they have to do - I told him this at 11:00 a.m. this morning - give me 15 minutes to debate, 15 minutes to vote and we could have been done by noon.

The president has said he supports a path to citizenship for 1.8 million youths eligible for DACA as part of a larger immigration reform package. It would also fund the Children's Health Insurance Program for a full 10 years.

"I could give a raise to every soldier out there if we just come home from Afghanistan", Paul said.

Yesterday, Pelosi stopped short of whipping opposition to the budget deal, telling members of the Democratic Caucus to "do what you want to do" on the vote, according to Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), who attended a closed-door Democratic meeting late yesterday afternoon.

Sen. Rand Paul is holding up a vote on the Senate budget deal, saying he can't in "all good faith" move ahead with the deal without more debate.

The new budget bill would raise military and domestic spending by nearly US$300 billion over the next two years. If it does, the bill will go to the House where a vote should happen in early morning.

The deal was announced Wednesday as a bipartisan breakthrough that could free Congress from an endless cycle of spending fights.

But many Democrats were unhappy with the compromise as well because it doesn't tackle immigration - specifically addressing the plight of DREAMers, including the roughly 700,000 immigrants who are in the USA illegally after being brought to the country as children and who are enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to expire on March 5.

"This deal achieves our top priority, a much needed increase in funding for our national defense", Sanders said Wednesday.

The White House backed the deal - despite President Donald Trump's outburst a day earlier that he'd welcome a government shutdown if Democrats didn't accept his immigration-limiting proposals. If it clears Congress and gets signed by Trump, who supports the measure, it could result in only a brief closure of government operations.

"It provides what the Pentagon needs to restore our military's edge for years to come", said Ryan.

On Tuesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly threw fuel on the dispute as he defended Trump's proposed solution.

And liberal stalwarts including top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi were also in revolt because the deal does nothing to protect young undocumented immigrants from deportation.

Approval of the measure in the Senate seemed assured - eventually - but the situation in the House remained dicey.

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