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Senate Still Has More Work on $1 Trillion Funding Bill

A conservative revolt in the Senate late Friday night is forcing the Senate to come to work Saturday to continue its work on a the spending bill.
Image: The dome of the US Capitol is seen at dusk
epa04525553 The dome of the US Capitol is seen at dusk in Washington, DC, USA, 11 December 2014. Congress is working to approve a 1.013-trillion-dollar spending bill to fund the US federal government to avoid a government shutdown before a midnight deadline. EPA/SHAWN THEWSHAWN THEW / EPA

The House of Representatives gave the Senate more time to approve a $1.1 trillion spending bill on Friday, passing a stopgap measure that will keep the government running until Wednesday, but a conservative revolt in the Senate late Friday night threw that stop gap measure into limbo and is forcing the Senate to come to work Saturday to continue its work.

After Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV, agreed to postpone the highly anticipated vote until Monday, conservative Republicans objected to the bipartisan leadership plan to take the weekend off before the vote.

When Sen. Reid went to the floor and tried to establish the spending bill vote for 5 p.m. on Monday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, objected to Reid's motion, saying he wanted a vote on defunding President Obama's executive action on immigration.

The exchange occurred after Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, raised a "constitutional point of order" against President Obama's recent executive action regarding immigration in an effort to force a vote to defund the measure.

"It is important that the Senate have the opportunity to have a clear vote on whether we should be funding President Obama's illegal amnesty,” Cruz said on Friday. "I am doing everything humanly possible to ensure that the Senate has an up or down vote."

Reid denied Lee’s request, and as a result the Senate will be back on Saturday at noon to start as many as 40 procedural votes on nominations. It also sets up a procedural vote for the spending bill for 1 a.m. on Sunday morning to get to the previously scheduled vote expected on Monday. A Senate leadership aide told NBC News that leadership is now calling Senator's offices to prepare them for the 1 a.m. vote.

If the Senate is unable to pass the short term bill that funds the government until Wednesday, the government could shut down Sunday.

In addition to the government funding bill, the Senate also is working to pass nominations, a renewal of terrorism risk insurance and billions worth of tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year.

The conservative objections appear to even come as surprise to even McConnell who was seen walking into an elevator in the U.S. Capitol, telling reporters he would see them Monday.

This comes even after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said there is “an overwhelming bipartisan desire” to wrap up all business on Friday before leaving Washington for the rest of the year.

But Sen. Harry Reid, in his final hours as majority leader, rightly asserted earlier in the evening that “we’re going to have to be working here Monday morning unless something comes up in the meantime.”

The sticking points on the funding bill, however, which threatened the legislation’s passage in the House, include Democrats objection to language that loosens financial regulations. But it is conservative ire over immigration that is blocking the Senate from an easy path to passage.

Sen. Jeff Session, R-Alabama, who is also opposed to the funding bill but because it doesn't do enough to stop President Barack Obama's immigration order, expressed his opposition.

"It's a plain violation of law," he said of Obama's executive order. "It will give illegal immigrants the access to any job in America."

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has vowed to vote against the funding bill and led the charge against the financial deregulation provision, gave another passionate speech on the Senate floor Friday night. She railed against Citigroup, the financial institution charged with pushing to insert the deregulation measure in the bill.

"Here we are five years after Dodd-Frank with Congress on the verge of ramming through a provision that would do nothing for the middle class, do nothing for community banks, do nothing but raise the risk that taxpayers will have to bail out the biggest banks once again." Warren said.

-- Andrew Rafferty, Frank Thorp V and Leigh Ann Caldwell