The Senate voted narrowly to avoid a government shutdown, with the House voting early Saturday morning to confirm President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. The Justice Department issued a series of emergency rules Friday night allowing the Justice Department to bar phone and internet giants from offering encryption services that allow users to opt out of phone surveillance.
At 3:03 a.m. and thanks to a 96-3 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) agreed to proceed to consideration of a bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 8. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the only no vote.
Pending passage of the short-term continuing resolution, both chambers must pass a new spending bill to prevent a partial government shutdown.
By a vote of 98-1, the Senate unanimously approved a measure to send President Donald Trump a bill to make permanent a discounted veterans’ health plan available in two states. The GI Bill is used to finance education for both active-duty service members and veterans. The Bush-era system allows up to 36 months of free health care in exchange for military service.
By a vote of 43-31, the Senate voted to allow Republican Gov. Steve Beshear to sign a bill passed by his Democratic legislature to fund an experimental Medicaid program that provides health coverage to roughly 82,000 Kentucky Medicaid recipients. Trump has threatened to pull funding for the program under the ACA if Congress does not act to repeal it.
Back in 1996, President Bill Clinton struck a deal with Beshear that included a three-year extension of federal Medicaid funding. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Friday that “in the end, [Beshear’s Medicaid program] has succeeded in restoring hope and putting people on the path to independence, self-sufficiency and jobs,” adding that “it provides the kind of coverage that works.”
The next hurdle for Trump is a push to merge the Labor Department with a measure that would give the Labor secretary broad authority to regulate private schools that provide religious instruction. If that bill passes, the Labor Department would lose about $500 million in annual funding. It’s a top priority for both the president and organized labor.
Today’s total lack of government action contrasts sharply with the budget resolution passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on Thursday. The measure would hike spending to $1.1 trillion for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. It’s a popular proposal with Republicans who control Congress, though House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and other GOP leaders said they expected a no-confidence vote on the package today as a test of support from conservatives in their ranks.
Here’s what’s happened so far this year: