House Republicans and Democrats spent an hour blaming each other for Congress's failure to complete its work on 2013 spending bills this year, then held their noses and passed a giant, six-month continuing resolution that will keep the government running until late March.
Members easily approved the spending resolution early Thursday evening in a 329-91 vote that saw 70 Republicans vote against it, along with 21 Democrats. Dozens of Republicans were expected to vote against it as a reflection of their complaint that it does not cut enough spending.
The resolution puts the government on a pace to spend $1.047 trillion in discretionary spending in 2013, the same level agreed to in last year's Budget Control Act (BCA). Over the summer, the GOP House approved seven appropriations bills for 2013, many of which spent less than what was allowed under the BCA.
Several Democrats said those GOP bills were the reason why Congress failed to finish its work on spending this year, and said the fault lies with House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was picked to run with GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
"The reality is that the unwillingness of the House Republicans to keep their word is why we have a short-term continuing resolution before us today," Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said, referring to the agreement in the BCA.
"Rather than keeping to the bipartisan agreement, the Republican leadership rammed through the House a radical Ryan budgetary agenda that seeks to burden the middle class and seniors with the entire burden of reducing our debt, while giving millionaires and billionaires more tax cuts," she said.
"This appropriations process was destined to fail form the start, as Republicans unilaterally abandoned the Budget Control Act's statutory spending caps in favor of the unworkable caps of the Ryan budget," Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) added. Price said that the need for a six-month bill "proves that the Ryan budget is a lemon."
While Ryan's name was invoked, Ryan himself did not participate in the debate, although he appeared at the end of the process to cast his vote, in favor of the bill.
Republicans blamed the Senate for the failure of Congress to finish even one spending bill this year. Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) said there was no point in continuing in the House once it became clear the Senate would not pass or even consider any spending bills this year.
"The Senate leader said the Senate will pass no appropriations bills this year," Young said. "There's something wrong with that."
"When the Constitution is ignored, which is happening with our brothers and sisters in the other body, things don't work right, and we've got to get them right," Young added. "We've got to find some way to persuade those who serve in the other body. If their leadership doesn't want to do it, there are ways to apply pressure to the leadership to get the job done that the Constitution requires."
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and ranking member Norm Dicks (D-Wash.) both said they are disappointed that Congress could not complete work on all 12 spending bills this year. However, they also agreed that the lame-duck session of Congress should be used to finish work on spending for the rest of 2013, rather than ignore the problem until next year.
"My committee will stand ready and will stand at the ready to continue the appropriations process," Rogers said. "We intend to use the lame-duck process to the fullest extent.
"Just because this CR will last until March 27 of next year, we will not rest on our laurels until that time. We will do as much as we can to allow ample time to complete that essential work," he said.
After the vote, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called on Democrats to help avoid pending tax hikes and spending cuts that could reduce military spending.
"Now it's time for President Obama and Senate Democrats to work with Republicans to avert the 'fiscal cliff' by stopping the tax hikes that threaten our economy and replacing the 'sequester' that threatens our national security," Boehner said.
Because leaders in the House and Senate agreed to the six-month spending bill, the Senate is expected to approve the continuing resolution quickly, perhaps as early as this week. Current funding for the government expires at the end of the fiscal year, Sept. 30.
— This story was updated at 6:57 p.m.