US Senate approves spending bill to avoid government shutdown

The US Senate has passed a spending and border security bill, averting a second government shutdown. Lacking the funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall, the bill opens the door to Trump declaring a national emergency.

The bill is expected to be passed by the Democrat-controlled House and from there moves to the White House. While Trump is expected to sign it, the president has made it clear he will declare a national emergency to get the funding for his wall. The bill provides just $1.375 billion for fencing at the US-Mexico border, a far cry from the $5.7 billion Trump requested.

The spending bill passed the Senate with a vote of 83-16 on Thursday. It also provides over $22 billion for “border security initiatives,” including upgraded technology at ports of entry, assistance for illegal immigrants apprehended crossing the border, and more border patrol hires. It will fund the government through the end of the fiscal year and provide a 1.9 percent pay raise for federal workers, as well as a $1 billion increase in funding for the Census Bureau.

Both parties have framed the bill as a victory. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voiced his approval of Trump’s decision to use a national emergency to requisition more money for his wall, and Republicans pointed to the addition of more steel slat border fencing as a win.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the bill a “fair compromise,” noting they had gotten away without funding “the president’s expansive and ineffective wall.” The wall was at the heart of the impasse that caused the longest shutdown in US history, shuttering the government for almost two months as both parties refused to back down.