Both Chambers Approve CR, Kicking Spending Battle to Next Week
Both chambers of Congress today passed a continuing resolution to keep the government running until Wednesday, allowing the Senate to work out a plan to pass a $410 billion omnibus spending bill next week.The CR (H.J.Res. 38), which holds federal spending to last year’s levels, passed the House easily today, 328-50, with only two Democrats opposing the measure. The Senate followed the House by passing the stop-gap spending measure under a unanimous consent agreement. House Appropriations ranking member Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.) made a procedural motion to recommit the bill and change the CR’s expiration date from March 11 to Sept. 30, essentially freezing federal spending at fiscal 2008 levels. The motion failed, 160-218.House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said today that Congress has only “one option because the government will shut down [Saturday]— because of the looming expiration of the current CR at midnight today. “We really have operating here two different parties with two different visions for the future of this country,— House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) said today on the floor as debate swirled over federal spending. Passage of the new CR became necessary Thursday night after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said he was one vote short of the 60 votes needed to end debate and pass a bill by today’s deadline. “The Senate’s action last night sends an unmistakable signal that spending fatigue has finally set in,— Lewis said today on the floor. “Senators of both parties recognize what the House leadership failed to observe, that the spending in the omnibus is excessive and goes far beyond what our public believes is reasonable and responsible.— The Senate will continue next week to work on the $410 billion omnibus spending measure (H.R. 1105), which contains the nine remaining fiscal 2009 spending bills that weren’t completed last year because of a stalemate between lawmakers and the White House. Senate Republicans whittled down their amendments from 36 to 12 today, and Reid filed cloture on bill. Leaders will decide Tuesday when to schedule the cloture vote.Five votes are expected on Senate Republican amendments after 5:30 p.m. Monday, with remaining votes expected Tuesday, Reid said today on the floor.