House passes bill to avoid shutdown

The House passed legislation Friday to avoid a government shutdown just hours ahead of a midnight deadline.

The weeklong stopgap measure easily passed, 382-30. After the Senate clears the bill late Friday, lawmakers will have one week to hash out a longer-term spending package that lasts through September.

Only 16 Republicans and 14 Democrats voted against the stopgap bill.

The larger spending bill is expected to need Democratic help to keep the government funded, even though Republicans control both chambers of Congress as well as the White House.

Negotiations between the GOP and Democrats have dragged on amid unresolved policy riders regarding Puerto Rico and health benefits for coal miners.

The two biggest hurdles to a deal were resolved earlier this week. The Trump administration backed off its demands that the spending bill include a down payment for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. 


And Democrats who demanded ObamaCare’s cost-sharing payments to insurers to help subsidize low-income consumers’ health plans be appropriated by Congress signaled they were willing to accept the Trump administration’s assurance it would continue issuing them.

President Trump had threatened to stop the payments to force Democrats to negotiate on repealing and replacing the healthcare law. 

House Republicans had sued the Obama administration over the payments, arguing that they were unconstitutional because Congress had not appropriated the funds. 

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBottom line Republican lobbying firms riding high despite uncertainty of 2020 race Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-N.J.) said Friday that negotiators are getting close to a final deal.

“We need a little more time to process it,” Frelinghuysen said.

A day earlier, House Democrats had warned they would oppose the weeklong stopgap bill if GOP leaders tried to rush through their legislation to repeal and replace the healthcare law.

Rep. Steny Hoyer (Md.), House Democrats’ top vote counter, had told House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) of the threat.

In the end, GOP leaders were still short on the votes to pass their revised healthcare plan that would allow states to get waivers for ObamaCare’s requirements preventing insurers from charging sick people higher premiums and essential health benefits, which mandate minimum insurance coverage.

House Republicans could only lose 22 of their own at the most to pass the healthcare bill. The Hill’s whip list showed at least 21 Republicans planned to vote against no.

Hoyer said Friday that he would support the weeklong stopgap bill, but insisted he would not vote for another temporary funding patch.

“I am going to vote for this continuing resolution. But I want to put my colleagues on notice and the American people on notice that I will not vote for another one,” Hoyer said during House floor debate. 

Appropriators are hoping to release a final deal in the coming days. The House GOP's rule that legislative text be available for at least three calendar days — or a minimum of 24 hours and two seconds — before a vote means that legislation would need to be posted by next Wednesday before consideration next Friday.