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 9:06 AM
Updated: Aug 24, 2018 9:06 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.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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