The US government shut down for the second time in 2018 as Republican Senator Rand Paul held up voting on a two-year budget deal that would have averted it.

US govt shuts down for second time this year after failing to pass spending measureRepresentational Image
news International Friday, February 09, 2018 - 11:06
Written by  DW

The US government shut down for the second time in 2018 as Republican Senator Rand Paul held up voting on a two-year budget deal that would have averted it.

Paul, a fiscal conservative from the state of Kentucky, said he could not allow a quick vote to take place because the proposed measure, which would fund the government for another six weeks, would also expand the US deficit.

"We have Republicans hand in hand with Democrats offering us trillion-dollar deficits," he said. "I can't in all honesty look the other way."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell set a vote for 1:00 a.m. local time (0600 UTC) on the spending bill. A house vote would follow and likely re-open the government, but it's possible that federal agencies would still be forced to implement temporary shutdown plans.

Deficit discontent

Democratic and Republican Senate leaders cobbled together the budget deal on Wednesday that would raise military and domestic spending by nearly $300 billion (250 billion euros) over two years.

The measure, which is backed by US President Donald Trump, did not include any spending cuts or new tax revenues. The absence of any offsetting measures, combined with far-reaching tax cuts passed at the end of 2017, would force the US to finance the increased spending through debt.

To permit the spending, the deal would also raise the limit on how much debt the government can acquire until March 2019. Total US debt currently stands at more than $20 trillion.

House Republicans, Democrats unhappy

The Senate had been expected to pass the budget deal on Thursday, allowing first the House of Representatives and then President Trump to follow suit.

But passage in the House was not assured amid opposition from some Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Members of the "Freedom Caucus" — a group of fiscally conservative House Republicans — announced they would oppose the measure, citing the projected increase in the government deficit.

Some Democrats, including minority leader Nancy Pelosi, also said they opposed the measure because it did not include a deal that would protect some 700,000 "Dreamers" — immigrants brought to the US illegally as children — from deportation.

Shutdown drama

The government was forced to shut down for three days in mid-January after the Senate failed to pass a stopgap budget amid Democratic demands for a deal to protect "Dreamers."

Democrats abandoned their opposition after three days, allowing the Senate and House to pass a temporary spending bill on January 23.

(This article was first published on DW. You can read the original article here.)