Stopgap Funding Bill Passes

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Senate yesterday approved a resolution to keep the federal government running through Dec. 17, giving Congress more time to complete spending bills and President Bush an opportunity to review a handful of measures recently completed by lawmakers.

The stopgap funding measure, approved on a voice vote, now goes to Bush for his signature. The House passed an identical measure Thursday.

This is the second such measure that has been needed since the federal government's fiscal year started on Oct. 1. The first extension expired yesterday.

Of a dozen spending bills to fund the government in fiscal 2006, five have been signed into law and four are expected to be ready for Bush's signature by day's end.

Yesterday, the House and Senate gave final passage to $45.4 billion in military construction funds and veterans benefits, and a $65.9 billion bill for the departments of Transportation, the Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development glided through, unanimously in the Senate and by 392 to 31 in the House.

Congress still had work to do on two of the largest annual appropriations bills, a $445 billion defense spending measure and a $142.5 billion bill for health, education and labor programs, which ran into last-minute trouble in the House.

The Pentagon is counting on receiving an additional $50 billion to keep the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan running for the next few months as part of the defense bill. This legislation has been delayed by fights over whether to impose limits on military interrogations and the treatment of war prisoners and detainees.

The health-education-labor bill was headed for completion Thursday until a band of House Republicans joined Democrats in voting to defeat the measure, which would cut spending by $1.4 billion.

The cuts would have hit social programs including children's health, Head Start preschool programs for poor children, job training, drug abuse programs, and money for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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