A bill calling for the suspension of aid to the governments of Pakistan, Egypt and Libya was struck down on Saturday in the final Senate meeting before US elections on November 6.
Republican Senator Rand Paul had crafted the bill in response to recent attacks on US interests in these countries, ostensibly to allow some Republicans seeking re-election to claim that they are being tough on President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. It was soundly defeated by a vote of 81-10.
In other business, the Senate also passed by a 90-1 vote on a non-binding resolution insisting that the United States prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and ruling out any strategy aimed at dealing with a nuclear-armed Iran.
The only senator to vote against the resolution was Rand Paul, the Tea Party and libertarian favourite, who argued that it was a de facto declaration of war.
The deeply divided Congress wrapped up its final business before November’s elections as the US Senate passed a stopgap measure to fund federal programmes and avoid an October 1 government shutdown.
The 62-30 vote on the funding bill, which now moves to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law, was delayed by days of partisan bickering over votes on unrelated measures aimed at boosting both Democrats’ and Republicans’ political fortunes.
For the new fiscal year which begins on October 1, the $524 billion measure slightly raises discretionary spending – which funds government agencies and everything from defence to national parks – from current levels.
It was needed because Congress’ normal process of appropriating money for government operations broke down amid disagreements between Democrat and Republicans over spending levels and funding was due to run out after September 30.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2012.