Senate passes bill to keep government running; House to vote next
A short-term funding measure to keep the government operating beyond the end of this month cleared the Senate yesterday and is awaiting final House passage yesterday to avert any possibility of a shut-down.
The process of approving the proposal has been unfolding remarkably smoothly, compared with the previous efforts of a divided Congress that has gone to the brink repeatedly over spending issues.
If the House approves the bill before it leaves for a two-week recess tomorrow, funding will be assured a full week before the March 27 expiration of the resolution that is now keeping the government in operation.
And yet the 73-26 final Senate vote came days later than leaders had hoped. Passage was slowed by a familiar disagreement over how many amendments the chamber should consider for a bill that outlines spending priorities for every federal agency for the final six months of the fiscal year.
Many were attempts to blunt the impact of the $85 billion across-the-board sequester spending cuts on specific programs or agencies.
By late last week, senators had filed 126 separate amendments they wanted to be heard on the floor. Five senators, for instance, proposed slightly different versions of proposals to cut off foreign aid to Egypt.
Ultimately, the Senate voted on 10 amendments.
One, proposed by Sen. Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, would have shifted $6 million in parks funds to free up money to potentially allow the White House, Yellowstone National Park and the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, Pa., to reopen to public tours.
It failed on a 45-54 vote, with Democrats in opposition.
Another, would require tuition assistance programs for military service members, due to be suspended because the sequester, be continued.