House approves stopgap despite White House veto threat

The House on Thursday approved a stopgap funding measure in the face of a White House veto threat. 

In a 247-181 vote, the House approved legislation that would fund the federal government through April 15. The legislation would also fund the Pentagon through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. 

The Senate is not expected to consider the measure, and the White House said it would veto the bill earlier on Thursday. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he told President Obama he was disappointed about the veto promise during a meeting with the president and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). 

Fifteen Democrats voted for the bill, while six Republicans voted against it.

The six Republicans opposing the bill were Reps. Justin Amash (Mich.), Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Joe Barton (Texas), Steve King (Iowa), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.), and Ron Paul (Texas).

Democrats supporting the bill were Reps. Jason Altmire (Pa.), John Barrow (Ga.), Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Dan Boren (Okla.), Leonard Boswell (Iowa), Jim Cooper (Tenn.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Tim Holden (Pa.), Larry Kissell (NC), Tim Matheson (Utah), Mike McIntyre (NC), Collin Peterson (Minn.), Mike Ross (Ark.), Kurt Schrader (Ore.) and Heath Shuler (NC).

During the debate, Republicans brushed aside the veto threat and said there is no reason Obama or the Senate should reject the bill, because it funds U.S. military operations for the rest of the year. Boehner and other Republicans sought to portray the measure as an effort to fund troops and also keep the government open, and asked why Democrats would seek to create uncertainty for the military.

"There's no policy reason for the Senate to oppose this responsible troop funding bill that keeps the government running," Boehner said. "It reflects a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that was reached in December regarding the troop funding bill, and no Senator has objected to the policy in this bill."

"If you vote against this bill, you are voting against the troops, who are engaged in three wars," added House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.).

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) rejected these arguments, saying Republicans are again trying to "ransom" the government by only allowing it to remain funded if Democrats are willing to swallow spending cuts. The GOP bill would cut $12 billion from discretionary programs, which Democrats say goes to far, especially given that it increases military funds.

Overall, the bill would cut $4.4 billion in current spending. It also includes language that would bar the District of Columbia from using local government funds to pay for abortion services.

"You do it to pretend you want to keep government in operations," Hoyer said of the bill while noting that he would vote against it. "We ought to reject this specious political act, which pretends that we want to keep the government open."

Hoyer asked Republicans repeatedly if they would support a "clean" spending bill that makes none of the additional cuts sought by Republicans, but he was rejected each time. When he asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Cantor replied, "I would say to the gentleman, no," eliciting a chorus of GOP cheers. "We don't accept the status quo."

When Hoyer directed the same question to Rogers, he repeated the GOP's opposition to the status quo, and then ignored Hoyer when he was asked for more time to clarify his request.

Just before the final vote, Hoyer offered a motion to recommit the bill so that it provides for a clean extension of government spending. Republicans raised a point of order against it, after which Hoyer moved to appeal the point of order. Republicans moved to table the appeal, and succeeded in a 236-187 vote.