In A Late Night Budget Deal, Congress Delivers Harvey Aid, But No DACA Agreement

Most of the Texas delegation, including both senators, voted to support the bill.

By Jill AmentFebruary 9, 2018 10:45 am

After a long night in Congress – propelled by an hours-long objection from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)– lawmakers passed a budget measure to avert another government shutdown. Texas Sen. John Cornyn called Paul’s blockade “irresponsible.”

Sean Theriault, a professor in the Department of Government at the University of Texas, says that Thursday night was typical behavior from Rand Paul, particularly because he’s known as a deficit hawk.

“He’s really leery about spending lots of money without having it paid for, and so he took that principled stand on the Senate floor, of course, and then for a really long night for his other 99 colleagues,” Theriault says. “I don’t think he’s going to be winning many congeniality contests this morning.”

Theriault says this budget deal takes care of basic maintenance for the federal government, but it also includes $90 billion in relief aid. A lot of that will end up in Texas.

“I think that’s in part why you saw the Texas delegation really support this bill more than you might have otherwise have thought,” Theriault says. “Ted Cruz was voting differently than some of the people he normally votes right along with. But both he and Cornyn, of course, were yes votes. And then in the House there were 21 Republicans who voted for it, and there were only four who voted against it. And among the Democrats, there were eight in favor and three opposed.”

The deal wasn’t particularly popular with either party. Many Democrats were reluctant to vote for the bill because it left the DACA program in limbo.

“It was interesting though that even Sheila Jackson Lee came down to a yes,” Theriault says. “And I think that has a lot to do with that aid for Harvey. It’s hard being a minority party member in the House of Representatives because you just don’t get to control what the House is going to consider, so that’s why we saw Nancy Pelosi go to the House floor and try to get some concessions out of Paul Ryan.”

Theriault says it now looks like both the Senate and the House will debate DACA, but it’s unclear how lawmakers will vote.

“It seems like there’s majority support for coming up with some type of solution for the Dreamers, but what’s combined with that isn’t at all clear,” Theriault says. “And whether or not the House and the Senate can come to some type of agreement, it’s going to be really interesting politics here over the next month or so.”

Written by Jen Rice.