Senate Spending Bills in Peril as Last-Minute Objections Arise

WASHINGTON (CN) -A Senate leadership plan to avert a looming government shutdown with a two-year budget agreement could be in peril Thursday night as Sen. Rand Paul objected to holding a vote on the deal.

Paul, a Kentucky Republican who famously spent nearly 13 hours filibustering the nomination of former CIA Director John Brennan in 2013, began to speak just before 6 p.m. Thursday. His remarks came as Senate leaders attempted to schedule a vote on a bipartisan budget agreement attached to a bill to fund the government until March 23.

Paul objected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s, R-Ky., request for consent to hold the vote at 6 p.m.

“I ran for office because I was very critical of President Obama’s trillion dollar deficits,” Paul said after objecting to McConnell’s request. “Now, we have Republicans hand-in-hand with Democrats, offering us trillion dollar deficits. I can’t in all good honesty, in all good faith, just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits.”

McConnell gave Paul the opportunity to raise a procedural objection claiming the deal violates Senate budgetary rules, but the libertarian Republican declined the offer and started an hour-long speech against government spending. Paul was particularly critical of military and foreign spending during his speech, but also called on Congress to rein in spending in general.

McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced a deal on Wednesday to lift budget caps put in place as part of a 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling. The agreement raises the caps by $143 billion for fiscal year 2018 and by $153 billion in 2019.The agreement includes $6 billion to combat the opioid epidemic and for mental health programs, as well as $4 billion for veterans’ health care and $20 billion for infrastructure projects.

The budget agreement is attached to a short-term funding deal that will keep the government open until March 23. If Congress cannot pass a funding bill before midnight, the government will shut down for the second time in less than a month.

In addition to Paul’s objections, it is also unclear whether enough House Democrats will support the package. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., came out against the agreement on Wednesday because Speaker of the House Paul Ryan did not give a commitment to also bring up an immigration bill.

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