House passes 6th, 7th 'mini' spending bills

The House on Friday passed its sixth and seventh narrow appropriations resolutions of the week, once again daring the Senate to take them up and reduce the scope of the ongoing government shutdown.

In bipartisan votes, the House passed resolutions to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC).

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Most Democrats oppose the GOP's piecemeal approach to funding the government, and continue to call for passage of the Senate's "clean" spending resolution for the entire government. But these smaller spending bills have picked up a few dozen Democratic votes each time, and that was again the case today.

The National Emergency and Disaster Recovery Act, H.J.Res. 85, passed 247-164 with the help of 23 Democrats.

The WIC resolution, H.J.Res. 75, passed 244-164, and won the support of 22 Democrats. Each bill funds their respective programs at levels similar to those seen in fiscal 2013, but only through Dec. 15.

The votes took place after separate, familiar debates in which each side blamed the other for the government shutdown. Republicans said Congress needs to fund what it can in 2014 to mitigate the effect of the shutdown.

Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) and other Republicans said storms gathering strength in the Gulf make it critical to fund FEMA. 

"We have a duty to ensure that our nation is adequately prepared for disasters, so that our states are fully supported with their required federal assistance," he said.

Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) said the WIC bill is the answer to Democratic complaints that the shutdown is threatening the nutrition of 8.7 million women, infants and children.

"Now is the chance ... for my colleagues to join us in keeping this important program fully functioning and operational," he said.

But Democrats rejected both bills as part of a Republican plan that necessarily leaves other parts of the government unfunded.

"Nobody can challenge our support, my support on WIC," said Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.). "But ... this does nothing for the 48 million people who currently need food stamps."

Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) argued that the failure to fund all nutrition assistance would make it harder for lactating women to produce milk for their children.

Several Democrats said Congress shouldn't wait for Republicans to bring up small funding bills, and should instead pass one blanket bill like the Senate has done.

"How much longer are we going to continue this charade, and at what expense are we going to continue this charade?" asked Rep. David Price (D-N.C.). "The issue here is whether we're going to pick winners and losers by providing temporary funding for governmental services, operations and personnel."

Before each vote, Democrats tried to use a procedural move to vote on the Senate's "clean" spending resolution, but House Republicans beat back that effort each time by ruling it non-germane.

These House votes were the last of the day, but the House was set to return Saturday morning to consider a bill offering furloughed workers back pay once the shutdown ends.

— This story was updated at 6:09 to reflect the second vote.