Veterans Affairs spending bill passes House, goes to Senate

The House passed a Veterans Affairs spending resolution on Thursday, the fifth "mini" spending bill of the week that was sent to the Senate in an effort to reduce the impact of the government shutdown.

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In a 259-157 vote, members passed the Honoring Our Promise to America's Veterans Act, H.J.Res. 72. 

That resolution won the support of 35 Democrats, showing that there is some level of bipartisan support for passing bills that re-open parts of the government.

On Tuesday, when House Republicans tried to pass the bill under a suspension of House rules, 33 Democrats supported it. But that wasn't enough to get the two-thirds majority vote needed for passage, which is why the GOP brought up the bill under regular order today.

"We have to pass this legislation today … to ensure that veterans and their survivors receive disability compensation benefits," Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) said. "We have to pass this legislation today to make sure that 517,000 low-income veterans and their family members receive their pensions.

"We have to pass this legislation today unanimously so that three-quarters of a million students will receive their post-9/11 GI education benefits."

But Democrats once again said they can't support the VA spending bill or any others that don't fully fund all discretionary portions of the government that are now shut down. 

Democrats remain angry over the House GOP's demand that ObamaCare be undermined as part of a full spending bill, and Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) blamed Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) for convincing the House to go along with piecemeal spending bills.

"We need to end this life-boat strategy offered by the senator from Texas, where only the visible functions of government he approves or sanctions will be opened," he said.

Just before the vote, House Democrats tried again to call up the Senate-passed continuing resolution. The House turned away that request in a procedural vote, again with unanimous GOP support.

Democrats unsuccessfully tried the same tactic earlier Thursday, just before the House passed a bill funding the National Guard and military reserves.

As of Thursday, the House has sent the Senate five narrow spending bills, but the Senate has ignored them so far. Earlier today, Senate Democrats objected to calling up two of those bills, and have not indicated it will hold any votes on them.

The Senate adjourned before the House passed the VA bill.

The vote on the VA bill was the last of the day. It wasn't immediately clear what the House would do Friday, although Republicans could take up more spending bills, or two bills dealing with financial regulations.