Late-night twist as Senate pushes for approval of $1.1 trillion spending bill
WASHINGTON (CNN) — In a late-night twist that highlights the infighting among legislators, the Senate will reconvene Saturday after hours of debate over a massive government spending package.
The Senate was expected to vote Monday on the $1.1 trillion package, which has already passed the House, Sens. Mitch McConnell and Barbara Mikulski said late Friday.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid had made a procedural move to set up a vote on final passage in the Senate no later than Monday.
McConnell, the incoming Senate majority leader, had reached a deal with Reid to adjourn for the weekend and resume Monday to clear the bill.
But in a surprise development, some of McConnell’s junior members defied the agreement after he left.
Reid tried to get unanimous consent for an adjournment until Monday when there would be enough votes to end a filibuster, but Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, objected because Reid would not guarantee a vote on an amendment dealing with immigration funding.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also joined the objection, forcing the Senate to meet on Saturday.
Reid then announced to an almost empty chamber that the Senate will be in session beginning at noon Saturday.
It’s unclear whether both sides will speed things up enough for a vote on the spending package over the weekend.
Will the government keep operating?
The Senate was facing a Saturday deadline to approve the spending bill and avert a government shutdown, but that was pushed back.
Earlier Friday, the House approved a five-day stopgap bill to make sure the government was continually funded. To keep the government operating, the Senate is expected to approve a five-day continuing resolution on Saturday.
The chamber has been sifting through many of the same arguments that tied up the House on Thursday, when disagreements over immigration and provisions related to Wall Street and campaign finance nearly derailed the bill. Senate lawmakers wanted votes on amendments that would address those issues.
Two votes are expected Monday: a procedural vote to block filibuster and end debate on the bill, and a second one on the final passage.
‘Using every tool available’
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, filed an amendment that would strip a provision that softens financial regulations on banks from the spending bill.
“Congress should not put taxpayers on the hook for another bailout, and this giveaway that was drafted by Citigroup lobbyists has no place in a critical government funding bill,” Warren said.
Cruz, a chief critic of President Barack Obama’s recent executive action on immigration, also said he wanted a vote to block it.
“I think it is critical that the Senate have the opportunity to have a clear up or down vote on funding President Obama’s illegal executive amnesty,” he told reporters. “I am using every tool available to help bring about that vote.”
But by making the procedural move, Reid prevented those amendments from being considered. Amendment votes could have been risky, because if either measure passed, the spending bill would have to go back to the House to be voted on again.
While the House is technically in session, most members have left Washington until the new Congress convenes in early January.
A day after his administration scrambled to save the bill when it appeared it might be defeated in the House, the President said he was pulling for it in the Senate.
“I’m glad it passed the House and am hopeful that it will pass the Senate,” Obama said.
CNN’s Ted Barrett reported from Washington, and Faith Karimi wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Kevin Bohn contributed to this report.