- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2018

The government careened Friday morning into its second partial shutdown in less than three weeks — though this one appeared likely to be short-lived.

Sen. Rand Paul forced the government to go beyond the midnight deadline when current funding expired, staging a protest against the potentially $2.1 trillion budget bill required to keep the cash spigot flowing.

“Do I want to shut down government? No. But do I want to keep it open and not reform it? Hell no!” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said as he defended his filibuster blocking a vote.

Despite his efforts, the Senate was slated to vote at 1 a.m. to cut off the debate and then pass the budget bill.

The measure would then go to the House, where action was expected later in the morning.

That vote was expected to be a rougher affair, with both liberals and conservatives objecting to the massive spending bill. Republicans objected to the massive surge in domestic spending in the bill, while Democrats objected to what was left out of it — a solution to illegal immigrant “Dreamers” legal status.

While the government was technically in a shutdown as of midnight, personnel working overnight were likely to be essential staff. The full effects of the shutdown wouldn’t be felt until normal office opening times, and congressional leaders hoped have funding restored by then.

Mr. Paul’s stand wasn’t popular with many of his colleagues, particularly on the GOP side. They’d crowed last month when it was Democrats who forced a shutdown, but this time it was their own party that was complicit — despite having control of the House, Senate and White House.

Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina Republican, blasted Mr. Paul as a showboat obstructionist.

“You want to be a senator who makes a point, or you want to make a difference?” Mr. Tillis said on the Senate floor, challenging Mr. Paul’s delay tactics. “You may want to think about how you get your point across.”

He tried to move up the showdown vote but Mr. Paul objected.

Mr. Paul said he would have allowed the vote earlier but wanted a chance to vote on restoring the budget caps that have imposed some modicum of fiscal discipline over the last six years.

Both GOP and Democratic leaders objected, saying if they allowed him a vote they’d have to allow others to offer amendments.

Mr. Paul countered by saying an open amendment process is how he thought the Senate should work.

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