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House Passes Second CR in Near-Empty Chamber

With Messer presiding over a near-empty chamber, the House approved a continuing resolution to keep the government running. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The House quietly passed another continuing resolution Friday that would fund the government through Wednesday, providing the Senate more time, if needed, to pass the longer-term "cromnibus" — but also raising questions about the procedure for a bill that was unexpectedly passed in a nearly empty House chamber.  

With just three members on the floor — GOP Policy Chairman Luke Messer of Indiana in the presiding officer's chair, senior Republican appropriator John Culberson of Texas making the motion, and Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Flores of Texas standing by — the House passed a new continuing resolution Friday that would extend government funding through Dec. 17. Members did not have a chance to review language of the bill, and the vote was held without warning.  

The House passed the spending measure by unanimous consent, meaning no one objected to the legislation. But according to a sample of offices contacted by CQ Roll Call on Friday, leadership did not tell members that such a vote was occurring. After the House passed the cromnibus 219-206 late Thursday night, the chamber agreed to a unanimous consent agreement extending appropriations through Saturday, giving the Senate some time to debate and pass the cromnibus too.  

The Senate later passed that two-day CR by voice vote, with roughly an hour to spare before government funding ran out. President Barack Obama signed the measure shortly after midnight Friday — technically meaning there was a lapse in appropriations, albeit in the middle of the night and short enough so that no federal agencies were shut down.  

But apparently leaders didn't want to leave town without an insurance policy. Shortly after 3 p.m. on Friday, the House reconvened and passed the new CR, along with two other bills and an adjournment resolution, should the Senate also agree to shutter operations until the new Congress.  

If they do not, the House will hold a pro forma session on Tuesday, Dec. 16. If the Senate does adopt the adjournment resolution, the House will next meet Jan. 2, 2015, sine die, in congressional procedural policy, meaning without scheduling a future date until the new Congress convenes on Jan. 6 .  

   

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