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Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images

Sen. Rand Paul is keeping the Senate from voting on a budget deal tonight, holding out for a vote on an amendment that would keep spending caps at their current levels rather than raising them, as the bipartisan deal would do.

Why it matters: If both houses don't pass a deal by midnight, the government will shut down. Paul's spokesman, Sergio Gior, said: "All Senator Rand Paul is asking for is a 15-minute vote on his amendment to restore the budget caps...He is ready to proceed at any time." Leadership says that won't happen, and Paul reportedly plans to speak past midnight, meaning the government will shut down.

  • Paul, a libertarian deficit-hawk, would force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "to wait until 1 a.m. to vote to take up the budget bill and then another 30 hours of debate before final passage," USA Today reports.
  • Why not give him a vote: if he got what he's pushing for, "then every senator would want one. And if any amendment passed, it would blow up the budget agreement," per USA Today.

Go deeper: Government shutdown looming ahead of midnight vote.

Go deeper

House passes $1.9 trillion COVID relief package

Photo: Screenshot via C-SPAN

The House approved President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief package on a 219-212 vote early Saturday morning, sending it to the Senate for a possible rewrite before it gets to Biden's desk.

The big picture: The vote was a critical first step for the package, which includes $1,400 cash payments for many Americans, a national vaccination program, ramped-up COVID testing and contact tracing, state and local funding and money to help schools reopen.

10 hours ago - Health

Biden says it's "not the time to relax" after touring vaccination site

President Biden speaking after visiting a FEMA Covid-19 vaccination facility in Houston on Feb. 26. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said Friday that "it's not the time to relax" coronavirus mitigation efforts and warned that the number of cases and hospitalizations could rise again as new variants of the virus emerge.

Why it matters: Biden, who made the remarks after touring a vaccination site in Houston, echoed CDC director Rochelle Walensky, who said earlier on Friday that while the U.S. has seen a recent drop in cases and hospitalizations, "these declines follow the highest peak we have experienced in the pandemic."

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: FDA advisory panel endorses J&J COVID vaccine for emergency use — About 20% of U.S. adults have received first vaccine dose, White House says — New data reignites the debate over coronavirus vaccine strategy.
  3. Economy: What's really going on with the labor market.
  4. Local: All adult Minnesotans will likely be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine by summer — Another wealthy Florida community receives special access to COVID-19 vaccine.
  5. Sports: Poll weighs impact of athlete vaccination.