Congress passes bill to avert government shutdown
With just hours to spare, Congress approved a funding bill that will prevent a government shutdown—at least until December. The House of Representatives on Wednesday afternoon passed a short-term spending plan by a 277-151 vote margin. The legislation heads to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law before the midnight deadline. The bill, however, only keeps the government funded until Dec. 11, around the time when the Treasury Department is expected to hit the debt ceiling and run out of borrowing authority. But the legislation does include funding for Planned Parenthood, which has been a major source of contention for some lawmakers on the right.
Earlier in the day, the Senate passed the bill by a 78-20 vote. All Democrats voted in favor of it, while GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Marco Rubio – who are running for president – notably missed the vote. The Republican candidates who voted “no” included Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
All of the House Democrats voted in favor of legislation, in addition to 91 Republicans. That includes Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is running for House speaker and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who wants to be majority leader. Initially, some Republicans’ attempts to strip funds from Planned Parenthood threatened to lead to a shutdown. But after Senate Democrats rejected the effort last week and it became clear the issue was a non-starter, GOP leaders decided to take out the measure. Still, some – including Cruz – did not want to give up the fight this week to defund Planned Parenthood.
Cruz is well-known for leading an unsuccessful 2013 fight over Obamacare that triggered an unpopular 16-day government shutdown. The senator’s actions on Monday night prompted Paul, who is also making a bid for the White House, to argue that Cruz is “done for” in the Senate. “Ted has chosen to make this really personal and chosen to call people dishonest in leadership and call them names, which really goes against the decorum and also against the rules of the Senate. And as a consequence, he can’t get anything done legislatively,” he told Fox News Radio.
Speaking about Congress narrowly averting the shutdown, President Obama said on Wednesday, “The good news is, it looks like the Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government - for the second time in two years, that’s a somewhat low bar - but we should celebrate where we can.” He added, “The bad news is it looks like Republicans just barely avoided shutting down government again for the second time in two years.”
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