Advertisement

Update: Congress passes deal to avert government shutdown

The bill includes nearly $1.4 billion in funding for barriers on the southern border.

The Senate passed a bill to avert another partial government shutdown Thursday afternoon, by a margin of 83-16. The House is expected to vote on the bill later Thursday evening, and the legislation will then head to President Donald Trump's desk. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
The Senate passed a bill to avert another partial government shutdown Thursday afternoon, by a margin of 83-16. The House is expected to vote on the bill later Thursday evening, and the legislation will then head to President Donald Trump's desk. (Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Members of Congress passed a bill to avert another partial government shutdown late Thursday evening, hours before the next deadline on Friday night.

The Senate passed the bill earlier in the afternoon by a margin of 83-16. The House passed a finalized version of the bill later in the evening by a comfortable margin of 300-128.

The legislation now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it. He is also set to declare a national emergency at the southern U.S. border, to divert funding from elsewhere to add more money for his proposed border wall project.

The bill’s passage comes after prolonged debate following a record-breaking 35-day partial government shutdown that began last December and lasted until late January. It includes $1.375 billion for new fencing on the border, about a quarter of the $5.7 billion Trump has repeatedly demanded for a wall. It also increases the Department of Homeland Security budget to $49.4 billion, $1.7 billion more than last year.

Advertisement

The legislation also aims to limit the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention beds, a move Democratic aides told Vox and other outlets they hope will reduce the number of people the agency can detain. The legislation sets the number of detention beds at 40,520, significantly less than the 52,000 the Trump administration has asked for. But Congressional Republicans have argued that there is enough flexibility in the bill that ICE could detain more immigrants if it chooses to.

Democrats also reportedly fought to include backpay for government contractors who were unpaid during the shutdown and an extension of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) but were unsuccessful on both fronts.

In total, the bill includes about $324 billion in funding for agencies including the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, Housing, State, Agriculture, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The funding will last through September 30, the end of the current fiscal year.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the bill “a compromise that no side will view as a perfect deal,” but said he views it as “a success for our bipartisan process.”

In his own remarks on the floor, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the legislation an “reasonable compromise,” and cheered the fact that it does not fund in full the president’s proposed border wall.

Advertisement

Many on the left have bristled at the deal. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), four of the most high-profile freshman Democrats in the House, voted against the package.

Trump is expected to sign the legislation before midnight Friday. However, according to the White House, he has until 9 a.m. Tuesday — after the holiday weekend — to do so, signaling the president may take his time in reviewing all of the bill’s 1,000-plus pages.

McConnell announced Thursday afternoon that Trump planned to declare a national emergency in order to build the wall without going through Congress. The White House later confirmed those plans in a tweet, saying the president would “also take other executive action…to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border.”

The legality of such a move is still in question.

This article was updated to include news about the House of Representatives voting to pass the spending bill.