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After Hours of Uncertainty, House Passes 'Cromnibus' (Updated)

Boehner needed help getting the bill over the finish line. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

   

Updated 10:19 p.m. |  The House narrowly advanced a trillion-dollar spending bill Thursday night to fund nearly all federal operations through the end of the fiscal year.  

The measure passed 219-206 and now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers have just a few hours to avert a government shutdown; funding runs out at 11:59 p.m.  

Sixty-seven Republicans joined 139 Democrats voting "no," a volume of opposition ultimately not great enough to stymie the bill that was, by all accounts, controversial — even for those who voted "yes." The outcome was even more of a win for GOP leaders than it might have been otherwise: Earlier in the day they were forced to postpone the vote indefinitely to make up for a shortfall on both sides of the aisle.  

A large number of Republicans said they would not vote for any bill that didn't explicitly block President Barack Obama from implementing his executive orders on immigration, even though they were given a short-term extension of Homeland Security funding as a peace-offering.  

In the hours between recessing floor proceedings and bringing the cromnibus up for a final vote, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., and his chief deputy, Patrick T. McHenry of North Carolina, worked to boost support among their ranks, according to a GOP leadership aide, who added that the number of committed "yes" votes on Thursday afternoon was greater by Thursday evening.  

But Democrats were the ones who ultimately held government funding in suspense. They were largely expected to help Republicans make up for a drop-off in votes, but they held firm against two policy riders they said were put into the cromnibus at the eleventh hour: One rolling back portions of the financial regulatory overhaul law known as Dodd-Frank, the other loosening campaign finance rules.  

Earlier in the day, they banded together and nearly sunk the procedural measure  needed to bring the "cromnibus" up for full consideration. Perennially insisting that Republicans need their votes to bolster must-pass pieces of legislation, Democrats thought they could withhold their support until the point where Republicans agreed to scrap those riders.  

Progressive Democrats, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as their champion, were defiant throughout the day, dismissing phone calls from President Barack Obama and prickling at a visit to an emergency caucus meeting by White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.  

Financial Services ranking member Maxine Waters, D-Calif., confirmed that even Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase, was calling directly into House Democratic offices asking for their "yes" votes.  

"I find that odd," she told reporters.  

But while the majority of Democrats stood firm in opposition, 57 of them decided that supporting the cromnibus now was better than not having any leverage at all in next year's GOP-controlled Congress. Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., came to the floor before the Thursday night vote to urge his colleagues to support it.  

After all, Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, had already made it clear  that the alternative was not revised text, but instead a continuing resolution that would expire early in the next Congress, when all of Capitol Hill will be under GOP control.  

Following passage of the cromnibus, the House passed by unanimous consent a two-day continuing resolution to allow the Senate to pass the spending package as early as Friday morning but not have funding lapse in the meantime.  

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