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House approves $1T spending bill

House approves $1T spending bill
© Francis Rivera

The House on Wednesday approved a $1 trillion stopgap-spending bill to keep the government funded through December 11.

The 319-108 vote sends the bill to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the measure on Thursday. It comes one year after a fight between Republican lawmakers and the White House triggered a 16-day government shutdown.

The total yes vote included 143 Democrats and 176 Republicans; opposition was just as bipartisan, with 55 Democrats and 53 Republicans voting no.

Republicans wanted no sequel to that episode, which injured the party badly in polls. The shutdown initially had Democrats thinking they might be able to win back the House, until the disastrous rollout of ObamaCare quickly changed the political conversation.

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The 21-page continuing resolution (CR), which the White House publicly backed on Wednesday, would fund the government at an annual rate of $1.012 trillion. Without its passage, the government would shut down on Oct. 1.
 
The measure was approved after lawmakers first voted to add language authorizing a program to train and equip moderate Syrian rebel groups to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
 
The Syria aid was the most controversial part of the bill, and was approved in an 273-156 vote.
 
The measure also includes additional funding to fight the Ebola epidemic, to assist the Department of Veterans Affairs and to beef up support for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which helps low-income people obtain nutritious food.
 
The bill extends the charter for the Export-Import Bank, which backs U.S. exports, through June 30, 2015.
 
Ex-Im’s reauthorization was opposed by many conservatives, but Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) announced he would back the measure last week. Hensarling is expected to try to kill the bank’s charter next year.
 
The $88 million included to fight the Ebola virus includes funding to accelerate the Department of Health and Human Services’ research on treatment and funding for the Centers for Disease Control’s response to the outbreak in Africa.
 
In the wake of this year’s scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs in which patients were found to be enduring long waits for care, the measure contains $64 million in additional funding for the processing of veterans’ disability claims and for investigations into potential misconduct.
 
No new funding for border-related issues is included in the bill.
 
It also allows for a continued surge in funding for State Department programs to respond to Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine and other former Soviet Union countries.
 
The legislation fulfills the guidelines of the budget agreement reached by budget committee chairmen Rep. Paul RyanPaul RyanMesser eyes challenging Donnelly for Indiana Senate seat Dems see ’18 upside in ObamaCare repeal Report: Trump eyes keeping a stake in business MORE (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty MurrayPatty MurrayTop Dem signals likely opposition to Sessions nomination Overnight Finance: Trump takes victory lap at Carrier plant | House passes 'too big to fail' revamp | Trump econ team takes shape Senate Dems: Force Cabinet nominees to release tax returns MORE (D-Wash.) last December, and comes after both chambers failed to pass all 12 individual appropriations measures.
 
The House had passed seven fiscal 2015 appropriations bills under an open amendment process, while the Senate did not pass any.
 
Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said she hopes Congress can work on passing individual appropriations measures by Dec. 11 to avoid leaving spending up to the new Congress, which could be entirely controlled by Republicans if they win the Senate.
 
Lowey said the CR was the only logical choice for now to fund the government in an effort to not repeat last October’s shutdown.