Congress OKs spending bill, averting shutdown
WASHINGTON — Moving to head off a government shutdown that neither party wants, Congress overwhelmingly approved a compromise spending bill and pledged agreement on a shortterm bill to fund the government through early December.
The House on Thursday approved a $147 billion package to fund the Energy Department, veterans’ programs and the legislative branch. The 377-20 vote came a day after the Senate passed the measure, 92-5. The bill now goes to White House, where President Trump is expected to sign it.
The quick action in the House and Senate came as legislative leaders announced agreement on a bill to fund the rest of the government through Dec. 7. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the short-term plan would be added to a separate spending bill that lawmakers are negotiating to cover the Defense Department and labor, health and education programs.
The stopgap bill would not address Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. GOP leaders have said they prefer to resolve the issue after the Nov. 6 elections.
It was not clear whether Trump would back this approach, but a Republican aide said the White House had not indicated any immediate opposition.
The bill approved Thursday was the first of three spending measures Congress hopes to approve this month to avoid a government shutdown when the new budget year begins Oct. 1.
Passage was so important to GOP leaders that they moved up the Senate vote, citing the threat of Hurricane Florence bearing down on the southeast coast. The House and Senate both adjourned for the week following the budget votes.
Approval of the spending bill marked a departure from recent years, when Congress routinely ignored agency-specific spending measures in favor of massive packages that funded the entire government at once.
The bill does not address President Trump’s long-promised border wall with Mexico. GOP leaders prefer to resolve that issue after the November elections.