House invokes 'martial law' to speed vote on spending bill

For the second time in a month, the House on Tuesday invoked "martial law" to allow more expeditious consideration of a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

The use of martial law refers to bypassing the typical procedure that requires the House to wait a day after the Rules Committee produces a rule establishing floor debate parameters before voting.

Instead, the House can now vote on the procedural measure on the same day. 

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Congress is on a tight deadline to avoid a shutdown. The Senate has not yet passed the stopgap spending bill, which lasts through Dec. 11. Senators are expected to approve the bill Wednesday morning, but a vote has not officially been scheduled. 

Wednesday will be the last full day before current funding runs out. The government will shut down on Oct. 1 in the absence of congressional action. 

House GOP leaders invoked martial law earlier this month to fast-track a spending bill. But they ultimately never had to use it after the Senate opted to go first with the spending bill.

The martial law provision was tucked into a Tuesday rule governing debate on legislation granting states flexibility in withholding Medicaid funding from health providers that offer abortions.

Updated at 3:56 p.m.