Congress Passes Government Funding Bill Overnight

Congress Passes Government Funding Bill Overnight

The U.S. House of Representatives early on Friday approved a bill to fund the federal government through March 23 and to increase overall spending limits over two years, sending the legislation to President Donald Trump.

Almost $300 billion in new spending that is included in the bill approved on Friday will mean the annual budget deficit will exceed $1 trillion in 2019, said the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a private fiscal policy watchdog group in Washington.

The breakdown came largely in the Senate, when after a day of inaction, Republican Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in protest of increased spending before narrowly passing the House nearly four hours later.

Trump, in announcing he had signed the legislation, contended it will help the US military be "stronger than ever before".

"Just signed Bill", Trump wrote on Twitter.

The budget agreement is married to a six-week temporary funding bill needed to keep the government operating and to provide time to implement the budget pact.

The US Office of Personnel Management advised millions of federal employees shortly after midnight to check with their agencies about whether they should report to work on Friday.

"When Republicans are in power, it seems there is no conservative party", Paul said during the debate.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was urging her caucus to withhold support unless the speaker more fully committed to considering bipartisan legislation to protect Dreamers, who were brought to the US illegally as children. It also raises the country's debt ceiling that prevents a first-ever default by the federal government.

The deal Trump signed includes a bill that will fund the government through March 23, marking the fifth temporary government funding measure for the fiscal year that began October 1, 2017.

Some Democrats this week began more openly questioning the wisdom of their leaders' attempts to link support for the spending bills to securing legal protections for the Dreamers.

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan did not have enough votes for passage from his GOP majority, as conservatives, including the Freedom Caucus, rejected the deficit spending, leaving him dependent on dozens of Democrats for support. Many were sheepish about the bushels of dollars for Democratic priorities and the return next year of $1 trillion-plus deficits.

Even without Pelosi, the House could pass the budget bill because it includes more money for disaster relief, infrastructure and healthcare, which many Democrats favour. The president said lawmakers had 6 months to impose a legislative fix for the program and demanded that any solution included funding for a border wall, an end to chain migration, and an end to the diversity visa lottery program.

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