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That time Congressman Santa saved Christmas

The $1.01 trillion spending package, known colloquially as the "CRomnibus," would keep the federal government funded through September. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg

’Twas afternoon at the Capitol / and on the House floor
GOP lawmakers were panicked / "We need one vote more"

On Thursday, GOP Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) saved Christmas in Washington.

A razor-thin procedural vote in the House on Thursday almost derailed the $1 trillion spending package that would keep most of the federal government funded through September. That would have meant potentially stalling the holiday break while also risking a government shutdown.

"If we don't get finished today, we're going to be here until Christmas," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday. "You all know how this process works."

Bentivolio, a Michigan lawmaker leaving Congress at the end of this session, initially voted against the passage of a rule governing debate on the bill. That rule facilitates a speedy vote on the spending package and hence keeps lawmakers on deadline. With the rule still short of passing at the very last moment — largely due to near-universal votes against the measure by House Democrats — Bentivolio stepped back onto the floor to change his vote.

Very importantly, Bentivolio is also a Santa Claus impersonator and a reindeer farmer, which is perfect. And, right on cue, some of D.C.'s first snowflakes of the holiday season started falling right after the vote.

It's worth noting that the vote was strictly procedural, and does not guarantee that the spending package will pass into law. Capitol Hill was buzzing Thursday as lawmakers and their staffers worked quickly to pass legislation to fund the federal government.