Senate passes massive budget agreement

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WASHINGTON (AP) - The Senate has passed a massive, bipartisan budget agreement and spending bill to reopen the shuttered federal government.

The bill now moves to the House.

Senators voted 71-28 to approve the deal, easily overcoming objections from Republican fiscal conservatives who say the bill marks a return to unchecked deficit spending.

The bill stalled in the Senate Thursday night when one of the opponents, Sen. Rand Paul, refused to allow a speedy vote.

Paul's protest forced Congress to miss a midnight deadline for passing a funding measure to keep the government operating.

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1:35 a.m.

A bipartisan budget pact has cleared a key hurdle in the Senate and should shortly be sent to the House as lawmakers work in the pre-dawn hours to re-open the government.

The measure's advance had been delayed by Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul, who protested the budget-busting measure. It's married to a six-week government-wide spending bill that's required to reverse the shutdown.

Early Friday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney issued an order to close non-essential government operations.

A vote to pass the measure through the Senate began immediately.

But the bill's path through the House could prove dicey. There, liberal Democrats and tea party conservatives have swung into opposition.

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12:35 a.m.

The Office of Management and Budget has officially ordered the U.S. government closed.

OMB Director Mick Mulvaney issued the order at midnight, notifying federal agencies they should execute their contingency plans.

Mulvaney's notice says federal employees should report to work Friday to "undertake orderly shutdown activities."

He notes that his office is "hopeful that this lapse in appropriations will be of short duration."

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12:30 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says the Trump administration is "hopeful" the government shutdown that began at midnight will not last long.

Pence is in South Korea, where he is leading the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. He says the White House hopes Congress moves swiftly to approve a two-year budget agreement.

Pence says he has been in contact with the White House legislative office and President Donald Trump about the shutdown, but indicates he hasn't been directly involved in conversations with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

"Our hope is that the bipartisan agreement reached in the Senate will be passed and sent to the House," Pence says, adding, "We're on standby as the vote approaches."

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12:01 a.m.

The federal government has shut down after a quarreling Senate blew a midnight deadline to pass a temporary funding bill.

Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney immediately implemented plans to close non-essential government operations, says spokesman John Czwartacki.

A Senate vote on a stopgap funding bill is expected early Friday morning. A sweeping bipartisan vote is expected on the measure, which is attached to a huge budget agreement, but the timing and outcome of a House vote are less certain.

Essential government functions will continue regardless.

A shutdown - technically a lapse in agency appropriations - became inevitable as GOP Sen. Rand Paul repeatedly held up votes on the budget plan, protesting its likely contribution to budget deficits that are soon to top $1 trillion.

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11 p.m.

A short government shutdown is assured as the Senate has recessed until just after a Thursday midnight deadline to pass a temporary funding bill.

Kentucky GOP Sen. Rand Paul sparked the shutdown after blocking repeated attempts by GOP leaders to speed up a vote on the stopgap funding bill, which is attached to a huge bipartisan budget agreement.

Paul is protesting that the bill would usher in the return of trillion-dollar budget deficits.

The Senate is likely to vote to reopen the government in the wee hours Friday. A House vote would follow, but it's possible that federal agencies will have to implement temporary shutdown plans if clearing the funding bill takes too long.

Essential government functions will continue regardless.

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9:45 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence's trip to the Olympics will be unaffected by a potential U.S. government shutdown.

Pence is set to lead the U.S. delegation to the opening ceremonies of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Friday evening. An official who was unauthorized to speak publicly on the matter says the vice president's trip will continue as planned even if Congress doesn't act before midnight to keep the government open.

White House officials say the trip's diplomatic and national security aims - which revolve around highlighting North Korea's human rights abuses and nuclear program - meet the criteria for critical spending during a lapse in federal funding.

Pence traveled to the Middle East during the three-day January government shutdown, with aides citing the same exception.

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7:55 p.m.

Sen. Rand Paul says he is prepared to keep the Senate in session all night to protest a bipartisan budget deal that increases the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.

The Kentucky Republican says he expects the Senate to vote on the budget bill after 1 a.m. Friday - and possibly several hours after a midnight deadline to avert a second government shutdown in three weeks.

Paul tells The Associated Press he knows his protest against the bill is likely to fail, but says it is important to point out that the last-minute agreement could increase the federal deficit by as much as $1 trillion.

He says senators will likely pass the bill, adding, "They'll be tired and ornery, but it's their own fault."

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7:40 p.m.

The No. 2 House Democrat says it's time for a 24-hour stopgap spending bill to avert any chance of a government shutdown at midnight Thursday.

Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland says Democrats would support such a move.

Hoyer's overture comes as Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is holding up action in the Senate, demanding a vote to cut back the measure's spending totals.

A House GOP aide says leaders are not inclined to take Hoyer up on his offer, and says they are determined to vote even if there is a brief shutdown. The aide requested anonymity because leadership deliberations are secret.

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