A Rare Bipartisan Success for Congress
The Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill late Saturday night by a 56-40 vote that crisscrossed party lines, reflecting a desire by both parties to keep the government open and end Congress’s tormented year. It also pointed to some broader political dynamics that could outlast the lame-duck session. The House had approved the spending bill two days earlier.
Republican leaders in both the House and Senate shepherded the bill over the objection of their disgruntled conservative wings, an assertion of power by the party establishment after years of heckling by the back benches.
Among Democrats, a majority proved reluctant to follow the party’s resurgent liberals to a confrontational year-end battle. The 56 “yes” votes comprised 31 Democrats, 24 Republicans and one independent.
“I was upset and frustrated with the way [the messy legislative process] looked, but there was a glimmer of hope by the way it ended up passing,” said former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott , a Mississippi Republican, after the House passed the bill with a similar bipartisan majority. “It was a coalition. Maybe on trade, energy and tax policy this could be the formula.”
One wild card emerged as a potential obstacle: the pull of the next presidential campaign. All the Senate’s potential presidential candidates from both parties voted against the bill. That made for an odd alliance of potential Republicans contenders—Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida—joined by Sens. Elizabeth Warren , a Massachusetts Democrat, and Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.