What Almost Derailed $1.3T Budget Bill: Name of a Forest

Senate conservatives caused late-night drama
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 23, 2018 12:42 AM CDT
Congress OKs $1.3T Budget Bill
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer speak to reporters about the massive government spending bill moving through Congress on Thursday.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Congress gave final approval early Friday to a giant $1.3 trillion spending bill that ends the budget battles for now, but only after late obstacles skirted close to another shutdown as conservatives objected to big outlays on Democratic priorities at a time when Republicans control the House, Senate, and White House. Senate passage shortly after midnight averted a third federal shutdown this year, an outcome both parties wanted to avoid. But in crafting a sweeping deal that busts budget caps, they've stirred conservative opposition and set the contours for the next funding fight ahead of the midterm elections, the AP reports. "Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses—and parties," tweeted Sen. Rand Paul. "No one has read it," he added of the 2,200-page bill that was released the night before. "Congress is broken."

The House easily approved the measure Thursday, 256-167, a bipartisan tally that underscored the popularity of the compromise, which funds the government through September. It beefs up military and domestic programs, delivering federal funds to every corner of the country. But action stalled in the Senate as conservatives ran the clock in protest. Then, an unusual glitch arose when Sen. James Risch, an Idaho Republican, wanted to remove a provision to rename a forest in his home state after the late Cecil Andrus, a four-term Democratic governor. Once the opponents relented, the Senate began voting, clearing the package by a 65-32 vote a full day before Friday's midnight deadline to fund the government. (A deal to help "Dreamers" didn't make it into the bill.)

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