- The Washington Times
Friday, February 9, 2018

The House approved a stopgap bill early Friday to keep the government open and to boost spending by about $300 billion over the next two years, acting swiftly after the Senate voted hours earlier to ensure that the government shutdown that began at midnight would be short-lived.

The House voted 240-186 to keep the government open for another six weeks, which will allow lawmakers to start filling in the lines of a massive two-year deal that lifts strict spending caps on defense and non-defense spending and suspends the debt ceiling for 13 months to allow for more borrowing.

President Trump announced shortly before 9 a.m. Friday that he signed the measure, praising its support for the military and saying on Twitter it will also be good for the economy.

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Democrats cheered a big increase in domestic spending, while Republicans praised an even bigger surge in defense money.

“First and foremost, this agreement accomplishes getting the resources that we need to rebuild our military,” said Speaker Paul D. Ryan, also pointing to money for items like disaster relief and combating the opioid epidemic.

Individual lawmakers, meanwhile, pointed to a slew of goodies tucked into the bill for their home states, such as tens of billions of dollars in disaster relief for Texas and special protections for dairy farmers that will benefit Vermont.

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But liberals objected to the lack of action to protect young illegal immigrant “Dreamers,” with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterating her call Friday morning for a freewheeling debate on the issue.

“Why can’t we extend the hand of friendship and protection to our Dreamers?” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Many House Democrats initially withheld their votes, but more than 70 voted yes in the end to help Republicans get the measure across the finish line.

More than 60 Republicans still voted no, as some conservatives said the budget amounted to a retreat on the spending cuts the GOP had won over the last six years.

The bill had passed the Senate on a 71-28 vote, with support coming about evenly from both parties.

Sen. Rand Paul had temporarily held up the proceedings across the Capitol, sending the government into an official shutdown — already the second of the year.

Mr. Paul, the Kentucky Republican who forced the shutdown with his filibuster, showed no regrets.

“Tonight, you could feel the frustration and embarrassment growing in Congress as we exposed the hypocrisy of Republicans who are joining in an unholy alliance and spending free-for-all with Democrats at the expense of the American people and our party’s supposed principles,” Mr. Paul said.

“Make no mistake, I will always stand up for fiscal responsibility, regardless of which party is in power, and I will continue to call the Republican Party home to the ideas that led to Americans trusting us with government in the first place,” he said.

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