Inside the Senate’s last-minute passage of $1.1 trillion spending bill

Late Saturday night the Senate passed a sweeping $1.1 trillion spending bill, heading off a government shutdown. The budget plan, which has drawn criticism from both Democrats and Tea Party Republicans, clears the way for larger campaign contributions by wealthy individual donors, among other things. For more insight on the bill, Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington, D. C.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    For some more insight, we are joined from Washington, D.C., by Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call.

    Thanks for joining us.

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Thank you.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    So, last night, we were headed home thinking that this was going to drag out for another few days.

    What happened? How did this get through?

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Well, what we had in the Senate, on the floor of the Senate was what we might call Saturday night magic.

    It's the kind of thing that often takes place on Thursdays, but this time, it had to wait until Saturday, as lawmakers reached an agreement to move ahead all the way through to passing the just-over-trillion-dollar spending package.

    And instead of having procedural votes that extended until 1:00 in the morning, and then coming back Monday at about 7:30 in the morning, they decided to get everything done.

    And, as a result, they are done with that piece of the puzzle, and they come back on Monday, really on Monday afternoon, for a bunch of President Obama's nominations.

    But the government funding situation is resolved.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    OK.

    As with all compromises, it usually leaves some people happy.

    This time, it seems that there are more people from the left that are angry at President Obama or the Democratic senators.

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Yes, the — the anger this time was somewhat palpable on the left, and even actually, too, there are some on the right who had similar views about the banking provisions that were included, seemingly in the last minute, in the compromise agreement.

    It rolled back a provision of the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul related to the treatment of swaps transactions, and basically taking down a bit of a firewall that had been built in banking activities.

    But the other thing too is, is that the folks who are on the more conservative end of the spectrum were not pleased over the fact that the bill didn't do anything substantively to attack the President's executive action on immigration.

    So there was sort of — all comers had something not to like, which is probably why there were lots of votes against it on both ends of the spectrum.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    OK.

    Now, immigration still will be debated, just at a later date.

    There is kind of a cliff at the end of February, where the Department of Homeland Security needs more funding, right?

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    That's right.

    And that's what the Republican leadership on both sides of the Capitol have been saying since the beginning, was, look, let's punt this issue until the Republicans are in control of the Senate, when there might be some opportunity to actually make a substantive policy change.

    You knew that with the Democrats in control of the Senate, you were going to have difficulty getting anything through at all in the meantime.

    But at least come February, from their point of view, that will be a chance to at least force something maybe to President Obama's desk.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right, Niels Lesniewski of Roll Call joining us from Washington, D.C., thanks so much.

  • NIELS LESNIEWSKI:

    Thank you.

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