The new spending deal tied Democrats’ potential presidential candidates in knots as they weighed whether to back the agreement to show solidarity with government workers, or oppose it to protest President Trump, the border wall and ICE.
The eight senators either already in or eyeing a 2020 bid split, with four backing the bill and four voting “no.”
Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, was the biggest surprise of the bunch, voting for the bill.
He said the alternative of another government shutdown, which could have resulted if the bill had been defeated, was too frightening.
“While I have concerns about aspects of this bill, I will vote for it because I cannot turn my back on the two million federal employees and private contract workers who would be forced, again, to work without pay,” he said in a statement.
Joining him in support were Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
In the end, the Senate easily did its part to avert a shutdown, voting 83-16 to approve the spending bill.
It still needs House approval.
Of the 16 “No” votes, just five were Democrats. Of those, four were presidential candidates.
The naysayers were Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Mr. Booker said his vote was a protest against giving more money to Homeland Security.
“This funding bill gives ICE and CBP hundreds of millions of additional dollars with little oversight or appropriate guardrails,” he said.
In that, he was following the lead of the “Abolish ICE” crowd in the House, where key freshmen congresswomen such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announced they couldn’t stomach the funding increases for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Other presidential hopefuls didn’t explain their “No” votes, focusing instead on attacking Mr. Trump.
In the wake of the vote, they did not explain their opposition to the bill to fund the government, focusing instead on attacking Mr. Trump.
Indeed, the president’s announcement that he would claim emergency powers to build more border wall than Congress has approved united the Democratic hopefuls.
“Gun violence is an emergency. Climate change is an emergency. Our country’s opioid epidemic is an emergency. Donald Trump’s ridiculous wall is not an emergency,” Ms. Warren said on Twitter.
Added Mr. Booker: “Trump’s inability to follow through on a campaign promise is not a national emergency.”
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