LIVE FROM CAPITOL HILL: Roger Fleming, is author of the new novel Majority Rules. Fleming is a veteran of Capitol Hill who witnessed firsthand the failures of the 1986 Reagan Era illegal immigrant amnesty bill.
“The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill late Saturday that funds the government through next September, averting a partial government shutdown and sending the measure to President Obama’s desk.
The Senate voted 56-40 for the long-term funding bill, the main item left on Congress’ year-end agenda. The measure provides money for nearly the entire government through the end of the current budget year Sept. 30. The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded only until Feb. 27.
Hours earlier, the Senate had approved a short-term bill funding the federal government through Wednesday night, easing concerns of a potential partial government shutdown. The stopgap bill, which passed by a voice vote, bought lawmakers more time to comb through the separate $1.1 trillion long-term funding bill.
The votes capped a day of intrigue in the upper chamber of Congress that included a failed, largely symbolic Republican challenge to the Obama administration’s new immigration policy, while Democrats launched a drive to confirm two dozen of Obama’s stalled nominees to the federal bench and administration posts before their majority expires at year’s end.
Several Republicans blamed tea party-backed Texas Sen. Ted Cruz for giving the outgoing majority party an opportunity to seek approval for presidential appointees, including some that are long-stalled.
“I’ve seen this movie before, and I wouldn’t pay money to see it again,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., recalling Cruz’ leading role a year ago in events precipitating a 16-day partial government shutdown that briefly sent GOP poll ratings plummeting.
Asked if Cruz had created an opening for the Democrats, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah said, “I wish you hadn’t pointed that out,” adding “You should have an end goal in sight if you’re going to do these types of things and I don’t see an end goal other than irritating a lot of people.”
It was Cruz who pushed the Senate to cast its first vote on the administration’s policy of suspending the threat of deportation for an estimated four million immigrants living in the country illegally. He lost his attempt Saturday night, 74-22, with 23 of the 45 GOP senators voting down the Texan’s point of order.
“If you believe President Obama’s amnesty is unconstitutional, vote yes. If you believe President Obama’s amnesty is consistent with the Constitution, vote no,” he said.”