Senate approves massive $850 billion spending package

Senators approved a massive $850 billion spending package Thursday and worked simultaneously to broker a dea...

Posted: Aug 24, 2018 10:06 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 10:06 AM

Senators approved a massive $850 billion spending package Thursday and worked simultaneously to broker a deal to clear a large batch of presidential nominees, an effort to finish their work and salvage the last week of August for a truncated recess.

While many senators are anxious to spend at least part of their August away from the Capitol, it was uncertain if leaders could clear several stubborn hurdles needed to finish their work and leave, or if they would need to return Monday and possibly work straight through Labor Day without a break.

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As they began late afternoon votes on the spending bill, aides and senators were pessimistic a deal on the nomination was near.

"See you guys Monday," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called out to other senators after he voted on the spending bill, a clear sign a deal was unlikely before next week.

Each side believes the other has an incentive to cut a deal and go. Democrats are convinced Republicans want to escape the endless questions from Capitol reporters about the swirling legal and political controversies involving President Donald Trump. Republicans, meanwhile, are sure vulnerable red-state Democrats up for re-election in November are desperate to get home to campaign.

"We reconvened this month because too much of the American people's business remained outstanding," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said explaining why, under pressure from conservatives, he canceled the August recess, which typically lasts up to five weeks.

But he said he would not release the Senate until the 17 nominations, which include 12 judges, were approved.

"The Senate will continue to work right through August until every one of them is confirmed," McConnell warned.

The list of nominees includes two senior government officials that some Democrats are reluctant to quickly clear. They are Richard Clarida, to be vice chair of the Federal Reserve Board, and Joseph Hunt, to lead the civil rights division at the Department of Justice.

While McConnell has the power to keep the Senate in session, a negotiated solution would be cleaner and allow Republicans to claim victories for passing the spending bill and for forcing through the confirmations of so many of Trump's nominees.

It would also allow senators to take what they see as a much-needed break before the fall sprint to the mid-terms, which includes a hotly contested confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Progress on spending

On an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the Senate voted 85 to 7 to pass a package of bills to fund the Department of Defense, Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies.

Bipartisan leaders this year made it a priority to pass government spending bills on time and avoid the constant and disruptive threats of government shutdowns that have marked recent spending debates. With that in mind, they decided to tie these two bills together in hopes that Republicans, who traditionally advocate for more defense spending, and Democrats, who typically press for more spending for domestic programs, would work together to keep co-called "poison pill" amendments and other controversial proposals off the bill.

They went to great lengths to preserve their arrangement. At one point Wednesday, 78-year-old Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy from Vermont, literally ran to the Senate floor from the Capitol basement when he heard Republican Sen. Rand Paul from Kentucky might be trying to strip Planned Parenthood funding from the bill, something opposed by many Democrats.

In the end, Paul's effort didn't work, and he delivered a floor speech Thursday blaming GOP leaders -- not Democrats or Leahy -- for not working hard enough to pass his amendments.

On the Democratic side, a move by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy from Connecticut to prevent the Trump administration from using funds in the bill to arm school teachers, which many Republicans wouldn't support, was also kept at bay.

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt from Missouri, a manager of the bill, called passage of the DOD and HHS bills a "pretty significant accomplishment" and said lawmakers would use the month of September to finish other spending bills and merge competing House and Senate funding bills and send them to the President before the new fiscal year begins October 1.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 751242

Reported Deaths: 13795
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1032931788
Lake556911009
Allen41692692
St. Joseph36990565
Hamilton36588417
Elkhart29398461
Tippecanoe22901226
Vanderburgh22556400
Porter19356325
Johnson18471389
Hendricks17682317
Clark13226195
Madison13149344
Vigo12614253
LaPorte12419221
Monroe12207176
Delaware10966198
Howard10321225
Kosciusko9630121
Hancock8576146
Bartholomew8169157
Warrick7860156
Floyd7811180
Grant7242179
Wayne7162201
Boone6966103
Morgan6761141
Dubois6218118
Marshall6209116
Cass6016110
Henry5900110
Dearborn589878
Noble581488
Jackson509076
Shelby501496
Lawrence4742122
Gibson444894
Clinton442355
Harrison441875
DeKalb439885
Montgomery438090
Whitley406543
Huntington402681
Steuben400159
Miami395269
Jasper388054
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White331953
Daviess3033100
Wells295281
Decatur289992
Greene286885
Fayette284864
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Scott270156
Clay267148
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Randolph244783
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Starke228058
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Sullivan214643
Owen211858
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Jay200932
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Union72810
Ohio57911
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1108736

Reported Deaths: 20166
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1287201467
Cuyahoga1157922211
Hamilton813971250
Montgomery525481043
Summit484271001
Lucas43353820
Butler39013606
Stark33332929
Lorain25672505
Warren24591303
Mahoning22370603
Lake21207388
Clermont20117253
Delaware18852136
Licking16662222
Fairfield16574204
Trumbull16548482
Medina15610271
Greene15281248
Clark14237306
Wood13292200
Portage13251215
Allen11913239
Richland11605211
Miami10849225
Wayne9141223
Columbiana9032230
Muskingum8906135
Pickaway8663122
Tuscarawas8649250
Marion8642138
Erie8056165
Ashtabula7160179
Hancock6998132
Ross6944161
Geauga6838151
Scioto6534106
Belmont6157174
Union584549
Lawrence5731102
Jefferson5678158
Huron5546122
Sandusky5442126
Darke5420129
Seneca5348128
Washington5319109
Athens523960
Auglaize502187
Mercer487385
Shelby476895
Knox4571112
Madison444266
Ashland435797
Putnam4336103
Defiance432399
Fulton432074
Crawford4037110
Brown402461
Logan387677
Preble3855105
Clinton379166
Ottawa373681
Highland359665
Williams348278
Champaign344759
Guernsey324953
Jackson318254
Perry297350
Morrow291840
Fayette285450
Hardin275265
Henry273467
Holmes2701101
Coshocton269060
Van Wert247264
Adams243256
Pike242835
Gallia240650
Wyandot234556
Hocking220563
Carroll197348
Paulding176542
Meigs148440
Monroe136344
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan109624
Vinton85517
Unassigned03
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