The House on a 342-85 vote easily passed a 10-week stopgap spending bill late Wednesday, clearing the measure for President Barack Obama’s signature with two days to spare before a government shutdown.
The Obama administration voiced support for passage of the continuing resolution in a statement of administration policy. The House was expected to adjourn later Wednesday and not return until after the November elections.
The House vote, as well as an earlier Senate vote of 72-26, were in contrast to weeks of battles over whether money to fight the Zika virus should be made available to Planned Parenthood locations in Puerto Rico and over emergency aid for stricken Flint, Michigan. Congressional leaders smoothed over a final impasse by committing to include financial help for Flint's contaminated water system in subsequent legislation expected to clear in the lame-duck session after the elections.
But it’s clear that as time ran out to get the stopgap spending bill to the president, other issues that were sticking points will pop up again in spending negotiations on tap for December.
“This short time frame will allow Congress to complete our annual appropriations work without jeopardizing important government functions,” House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers said of the CR, shortly before the chamber cleared the measure.
In addition to continuing fiscal 2016 levels for programs through Dec. 9 — though that level was knocked down by just under half a percent to fit under budget caps — the package also includes $1.1 billion in funding to respond to the Zika virus, $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, and full fiscal 2017 appropriations for military construction and veterans.
During floor debate, Rogers touted the fiscal 2017 Military Construction-VA bill, which he said if enacted would represent the first time since 2009 that lawmakers have pushed through a regular appropriations bill that resulted from a bicameral conference.
“It’s not perfect, but it ensures we meet our nation’s critical needs,” the Kentucky Republican said, adding, “At this point, it is what we must do to fulfill our congressional responsibility, to keep the lights on in our government.”
Several major issues likely will be high on the minds of Democrats and the White House when lawmakers return after the elections.
Democratic leaders, for example, have cried foul over a continued block on a Securities and Exchange Commission rule that would require publicly traded companies to disclose political spending, a concession they hoped to gain from Republicans in negotiations. The White House also pointed to the issue in a statement of administration policy earlier Wednesday.