US Congress approves $1.3-trillion spending bill, sends to Trump

Saturday, 24 March 2018 14:50 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

WASHINGTON (Reuters): The US Congress voted early on Friday to approve a $1.3-trillion government funding bill with large increases in military and non-defence spending, sending it to President Donald Trump, who was expected to sign it into law.

With Trump’s signature, the bill will avert a threatened government shutdown and keep federal agencies funded until Sept. 30, ending for now Washington’s constant budget squabbles and letting lawmakers focus on getting reelected in November.

The Senate voted 65-32 for the bill, several hours after the House of Representatives passed it 256-167 on Thursday.

The votes capped a long struggle by Congress, which was supposed to have approved the government funding by last Oct. 1.

Since then, several stop-gap spending bills have kept the government open, except for two brief shutdowns earlier this year when Congress deadlocked and funding expired.

Despite Republican leaders urging passage of the bill, some Republicans voted no. Their party controls both chambers of Congress and the White House, but has struggled since taking power in January 2017 to approve budget legislation.

Republican Senator Rand Paul spent part of Thursday on social network Twitter criticising what he said was unnecessary spending in the sprawling bill.

“Shame, shame. A pox on both Houses – and parties. Here’s the 2,232 page, $1.3 trillion, budget-busting Omnibus spending bill,” Paul declared in one message.

He decried a “monstrous bill” teeming with money for decades-old programs. His last-minute objections played a key role in delaying the Senate’s vote until the dead of night.