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Senate Overcomes Conflicts to Pass Minibus

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye applauded the bipartisan, bicameral cooperation that enabled the minibus to pass Congress today.

The Senate today sent President Barack Obama a package of three spending bills, which includes a provision that keeps the government funded through Dec. 16.

Senate action on the minibus, which was passed 70 to 30, came a few hours after the House passed the package 298-121.

The Senate is expected to be in session Friday working on the Defense authorization bill, but no roll call votes are likely.

The bill was approved over the objections of mostly conservative Members who charged the measure was too costly. They also protested language on housing loans that they considered harmful, and the two concerns prompted a handful of organizations including the Club for Growth and Heritage Action to designate the measure as a key vote.

Still, the House and Senate’s approval marks a victory for the two chambers, which have been at odds on spending matters all year.

“It has become all too rare a thing in this Congress to come to an agreement such as this, and I’m proud to say that this conference report was approved by all but one of the 38 House and Senate conferees from both parties,” House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said on the floor. “While there are no doubt items where Members might disagree, there are many achievements in this bill of which we can be proud.”

Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye said that the budget and spending process this year has faced “unprecedented challenges” as partisan disagreements over spending delayed the appropriations process.

“Despite these challenges, we now consider legislation that reflects the good-faith efforts and input of Members of both sides of the aisle of both the House and the Senate,” the Hawaii Democrat said. “Given the current fiscal and political realities, this is no small accomplishment.”

A continuing resolution that funds the government through Dec. 16 is included in the overall package, which also contains three appropriations bills: the Commerce, Justice and science appropriations bill; the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill; and the Agriculture, rural development, and Food and Drug Administration appropriations bill.

The National Association of Home Builders added the bill to its key votes because it includes language that increases the mortgage amount the Federal Housing Administration can insure to $729,750, a move it thinks helps the struggling housing market.

But that provision has conservatives up in arms. Club for Growth and Heritage Action specifically pointed to the increased loan limits as a major reason they oppose the package.

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