The House passed a six-month spending bill early Saturday morning following an unprecedented four-day floor debate, allowing exhausted Members to return to their districts for the President’s Day recess.
The continuing resolution, which would keep the government funded from March 4 through the end of fiscal 2011, was passed by a vote of 235-189 just after 4:30 a.m. Saturday. The measure would cut spending by more than $100 billion below President Barack Obama’s 2011 request, with deep cuts to virtually all areas of federal discretionary spending. The House is adjourned until Feb. 28.
Majority Leader Eric Cantor hailed the bill, calling it the largest cut to spending in history.
“Today a majority passed the single largest spending cut in modern history, and our action serves as the historic turning point from a Congress that ignored the will of the people to a Congress that responds to the will of the people. This is the first of many steps by the House to trim spending, live within its means, and get people back to work,” the Virginia Republican said in a statement early Saturday.
The measure now goes to the Senate, where it will almost certainly be drastically changed by the Democratic majority, setting up a difficult conference between the two chambers.
Cantor also took a shot at Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who has criticized the bill for its deep cuts.
“The Continuing Resolution now heads to the Senate, where Leader Harry Reid has already called our efforts to rein in spending ‘draconian’ and ‘unworkable,’ despite his failure to offer any plan to stop the government from borrowing 40 cents out of every dollar that is spent. Thus far, the Obama-Reid plan to get our fiscal house in order and get people back to work is the status quo, and quite frankly, people deserve better,” Cantor said.
House Republicans allowed a largely open amendment process for the continuing resolution, and Members took full advantage, offering more than 500 amendments.
Although the bulk of the bill went unchanged, Members were able to make some spending adjustments, including several that were not backed by leadership. For instance, progressives and conservatives banded together to kill a $450 million engine project for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, which was backed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). Democrats and moderate Republicans also united to increase funding for local police and firefighter programs to $810 million.
The bill also prohibits funding for much of Obama’s signature health care overhaul law.
With the current funding legislation set to expire March 4, the House and Senate would need to pass a stopgap spending measure or face a government shutdown. Although Democrats have pushed for a straight extension of existing spending levels, Republicans have thus far balked at that proposal, arguing any extensions must include some reductions.
House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy praised the House-passed legislation. “Today the House took a meaningful first step in removing barriers to job growth by reining in the culture of spending in Washington. House Republicans fulfilled our pledge to America by passing a funding bill that will cut spending by more than $100 billion over the next seven months,” the California Republican said in a statement.
“It is my hope that the President will step up to the plate and join us in leading the country toward fiscal responsibility,” McCarthy added.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.