House spending chief unveils 'clean' stopgap to avoid government shutdown

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal RogersHarold (Hal) Dallas RogersBottom line Appropriators face crucial weekend to reach deal Trump says he'll decide on foreign aid cuts within a week MORE (R-Ky.) on Monday evening unveiled a stopgap spending measure to keep the government funded until mid-December.

Republican leaders plan to hold a vote on the measure Thursday in the House. A Senate vote would likely be held next week. Rogers predicted Monday the legislation would pass.

The House Rules Committee is expected to mark up the bill on Wednesday.


The bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), would provide funds at a rate of $1.1 trillion and expire on Dec. 11, and avert a government shutdown when fiscal 2015 begins on Oct. 1.

“It is a critical piece of legislation, and my Committee has crafted the bill in a responsible, restrained way that should draw wide support in the House and Senate,” Rogers said in a statement. “This bill is free of controversial riders, maintains current levels, and does not seek to change existing federal policies.”

Key items of the CR include an extension of the Export-Import Bank and funding for the battle against the Ebola epidemic. It doesn’t contain specific funds for the U.S. military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Rogers said Tuesday that funding the government for only three months would give the new Congress a fresh start in January.

"I want to see us get our business done and come into the next year with a clean slate. I don't want the new Congress in January to spend their first weeks and months dealing with past problems," he said after a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning.

Covering the remainder of the year, however, will be important for Republicans if they win the Senate majority in November. A GOP-controlled Congress would likely push through spending bills with major cuts — something that could force President Obama’s veto pen.

Some Republicans, meanwhile, have hinted in recent weeks that they're not interested in a repeat of last October’s 16-day government shutdown.

The shutdown cost the U.S. economy at least $24 billion, according to Standard & Poor’s, and the Office of Management and Budget said it cost at least $2 billion to pay furloughed workers. It also damaged the Republican Party’s approval rating at the time, which its members don’t want again as the midterm elections approach.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), considered the architect of last year’s shutdown, threatened Tuesday to insert language into the CR that would end the Obama administration’s deferred action program. The program introduced in 2012 delays deportations under certain conditions for people who entered the U.S. illegally at a young age.

Last year, the Tea Party member and possible 2016 White House hopeful convinced Republican lawmakers to shut down the government in an effort to defund ObamaCare.

The new “clean” CR closely mirrors the omnibus spending bill Congress passed in January, except for some new additions and changes.

The Export-Import Bank will be extended through June 30, 2015, which is only partially good news for Democrats, who pushed for a five-year extension. Some Republicans had been threatening to not reauthorize it. The bank, whose current charter expires on Sept. 30, aids U.S. companies seeking business overseas.

The bill includes $88 million to combat the Ebola epidemic, the amount the White House had requested.

The spending bill doesn’t specifically contain funding for the U.S. military campaign against ISIS in the Middle East, but contains a continuation of funding for certain Defense Department activities, including rewards to combat terrorism. 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.

In the wake of the scandal at the Department of Veterans Affairs this year, the CR also contains additional funding for disability claims processing and for investigations into potential misconduct.  

No new funding for border-related issues is included in the bill, which Rogers said agencies don’t need.

The bill fulfills the guidelines of the budget agreement reached by budget committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) last December. 

The CR comes after both chambers failed to pass all 12 individual appropriations measures, which is a rarity in such a divided Congress. The House had passed seven fiscal 2015 appropriations bills under an open amendment process, but the Senate did not pass any. 

Rogers criticized the Senate for not passing any of them.

“While the Continuing Resolution introduced today will buy us time, Senate leadership must allow the completion of Appropriations legislation to fund the entire federal government – not continue on this path of piecemeal, lurching, short-term bills that punt on hard budget decisions and cultivate uncertainty in our government and our economy.”

— Cristina Marcos contributed