House Passes Stopgap Funding Bill to Prevent Shutdown
WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday passed a stopgap measure to extend funding of the federal government through March and allow negotiations of a more long-term spending package more time to bear fruit.
The vote was 272-162, with 51 Republicans joining all but one Democrat in supporting the measure.
“This continuing resolution is a product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiation to keep the government up and running while Congress finishes important work for the American people,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
“We are very close to an agreement and I am eager to move this process forward. I have every expectation that we can finalize a framework in short order and then work together to fill in the details and enact an omnibus,” she said.
The vote came a day before the House is expected to be out of session until Feb. 28.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Tuesday he intends to have the Senate take the continuing resolution up quickly and in plenty of time to stave off a partial government shutdown when the current funding measure expires on Feb. 18.
The hope is that the extension will allow negotiators on both sides of the aisle time to strike a larger spending deal to fund government operations for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
The resolution passed in the House continues to fund the government at current levels and provides $350 million in funding to address drinking water contamination from the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii.
But not everyone who voted for the measure was happy about it.
“My vote today was one of necessity — no government shutdown can justify any so-called political points — but I want to be clear: The process of voting for CR after CR is detrimental to our nation’s governing power,” said Rep. Tom O’Halleran, D-Ariz.
Among the problems, he said, is that when Congress passes a continuing resolution “we hamstring again and again our agencies’ ability to properly plan for the future, we force our military operations to constantly ‘hurry up and wait,’ putting our national security and the safety of our troops abroad at risk; disrupt hiring processes and lose out on employing the best, most qualified candidates for good-paying federal jobs in public service; let good, successful programs that desperately need more resources languish underfunded, and let wasteful, out-of-date programs remain funded in turn; and prohibit meaningful, long-term policy advancement, rule-writing and program finalization from occurring at our agencies.”
“With this CR process, congressional leadership has been in the business of delaying what must be done so many times over that we are nearing a breaking point where we may never catch up. This is what is wrong with Washington, and it must stop. We must end this kick-the-can methodology and pass our appropriations on time each year,” O’Halleran concluded.
Also upset with the passage of another continuing resolution was Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a Washington-based fiscal watchdog.
“We are over a third of a year through the fiscal year and lawmakers are still operating the government on stopgap measures,” MacGuineas said. “There shouldn’t need to be a third CR, or a second, or a first. The basic task of governing is budgeting, and yet again lawmakers have found themselves unable to get the job done.
“The budget process is clearly broken. The president’s budget is now overdue. Congress hasn’t followed the budget and appropriations process as it’s scheduled by law in decades. And we continue to kick the can when it comes to the basic duty of funding the government,” she continued.
“Perhaps more concerning, policymakers are apparently considering a massive $1.5 trillion omnibus funding bill when this is all done. … With the national debt headed towards a new record high as a share of the economy in the next decade, and the economy continuing to mount a strong recovery from the COVID-19 recession, it’s time to target and prioritize spending rather than enacting blanket increases,” she said.
“Lawmakers should come together to put our country on more sound fiscal footing. That starts by restoring discretionary spending caps at reasonable and responsible levels, which will both improve fiscal discipline and support a smoother and faster appropriations process. New revenues and mandatory spending reductions will also be required to fix our fiscal situation. It’s long past time that we fix our broken budget process,” MacGuineas said.
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