A strong bipartisan majority in the House has approved a short-term funding measure that will keep the government operating through mid-November, part of a deal reached last week to keep agencies operating with the conclusion of the fiscal year last week.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 352 to 66, which will allow the federal government to begin to spend at a rate of $1.043 trillion for the year that lasts through Sept. 30, 2012.
“ I’m pleased to see such a large bipartisan majority come together to pass this measure, and hope we can continue to find common ground – in Congress and with the White House – on removing government obstacles to private-sector job growth,” he said.
The passage had been widely anticipated as the the anti-climatic conclusion of a stalemate over disaster relief funding that had tripped up what leaders in both parties had once predicted would be a fairly routine agreement over temporary appropriations. The compromise was approved by the Senate last week and had been embraced by leaders of both parties in the House.
The two sides had sparred over whether $1 billion in disaster funding intended to help the Federal Emergency Management finish out its year needed to be offset with spending cuts elsewhere, as Republicans demanded and Democrats rejected.
A compromise was reached early last week when FEMA said it could get through the week without the additional dollars, allowing the two sides to agree to drop the last-minute funding and the accompanying spending cut. The measure approved Tuesday will allow FEMA to begin $2.65 billion for the fiscal year that began Saturday.
The compromise passed Tuesday on the strength of support in both parties--182 Republicans backed the compromise in the House, as did 170 Democrats.
In a statement, House Speaker John A. Boehner called the bill a “common-sense” step that will cut spending and ensure relief for victims of disasters. The bill represents a 1.5 percent cut in spending from the 2011 fiscal year that ended last week.
Meanwhile, 13 Democrats opposed the measure, as did 53 Republicans. The Republican opponents closely mirrored the 48 who had opposed the funding bill nearly two weeks ago when Boehner (R-Ohio) brought the measure to floor. They argued the bill will allow the government to spend too much for the year.
That time, Democrats too withheld their votes over the FEMA dispute and the legislation failed. A day later, Boehner wrangled his members and convinced enough to change their position to allow the bill to be sent to the Senate, where the compromise was brokered.
But with Democrats now on board, Republicans who opposed the measure for its spending were once again free to vote “no.”
Passage of the short-term measure will allow time for Congress to negotiate stalled measures to fund government for the remainder of the year.
House Republicans have tucked a series of controversial provisions into their spending proposals for the rest of the year, including a proposal to revoke federal spending for implementation of the health care reform bill until legal challenges to the 2010 act are concluded. They have also called for restrictions on the Environmental Protection Agency and on spending for federal funds for Planned Parenthood.
Boehner told reporters Tuesday that he was “confident” the House would come to an agreement with the Democratic-led Senate over the funding bill before Nov. 18, when Congress will lurch again toward a possible government shutdown without agreement. But he defended the Republican initiatives that will run directly into Democratic opposition.
“When it comes to the regulatory onslaught that this administration has been engaged in, it’s killing jobs in America, it’s like throwing a wet blanket over our economy,” he said. “I think it’s the responsible thing for us to do to look at some of these regulations and limit the use of funds in these appropriation bills.”