Senate

Senate passes funding bill to avert government shutdown

 

The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday in favor of a funding bill that would avert a government shutdown and fund federal agencies through Dec. 11.

The measure, which also provides emergency funding to fight wildfires and extends the expiring authority of the Federal Aviation Administration, passed the Senate by a vote of 78-20.

{mosads}All Democrats voted for the bill. Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Linsdey Graham (R-S.C.), who are both running for president, missed the vote.

The House is expected to approve the bill later in the day, ahead of the midnight deadline for keeping the government open.

GOP leaders appear to have avoided, for now, the prospect of a government shutdown, which some conservatives had threatened to gain leverage in their effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

The stopgap buys President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Boehner’s successor just more than two months to craft a broader year-end spending deal.

McConnell and Boehner spoke to Obama last week to lay the groundwork for the budget summit, which leaders hope will set the top-line spending numbers for fiscal 2016 and 2017.

In the meantime, McConnell plans to bring several appropriations bills to the Senate floor and force Democrats to vote on them in a bid to highlight their obstruction. Democrats have vowed to filibuster the spending measures, because they follow the spending caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.

“Now that the [continuing resolution] appears to be on track, we can turn back to the last step in the Senate’s normal appropriations process and that is getting the funding bills passed here on the floor,” McConnell said.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) criticized the GOP leader for bringing legislation to the floor that he said has little chance of passing without a budget deal.

“We’ve gotten nothing done, Mr. President, nothing done under the leadership,” Reid said, addressing the presiding chair. “I’m reminded what Albert Einstein said when he defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is running for president, was the Senate’s most vocal advocate for opposing any funding bill that did not defund Planned Parenthood but found little support from fellow Republican senators.

Republican colleagues blocked his effort Monday to add a one-year ban on federal funding for Planned Parenthood to the stopgap appropriations measure. The Senate voted 77-19 Monday to advance the continuing resolution stripped of policy riders.

A group of House conservatives plan to follow Cruz and offer an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood to the stopgap when it reaches the Rules Committee later Wednesday.

That gambit is expected to fail, as many Republicans have already signaled support for a clean short-term funding measure, but the vote will allow conservatives to formally register their opposition to funding Planned Parenthood.

Tags Boehner Harry Reid John Boehner Marco Rubio Mitch McConnell Ted Cruz

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