Congress passes stopgap spending bill avoiding government shutdown

As if it has become a ritual during the Obama presidency, the U.S. Senate on Friday voted to pass a four-month stopgap spending bill to keep the government in operation through April 28, 2017.

Following a House vote of 326–96, the measure passed the Senate 63–36 in what is likely to be the last vote taken in the 114th session of Congress.

Boasting of the accomplishment and burnishing the image of both chambers of Congress thriving under Republican control, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said of the bill’s passage:

“This Congress, the Senate has passed nearly 300 bills, and nearly 200 of those are now law.  But what really matters isn’t the number of bills passed, it’s what we can achieve on behalf of the American people. And by that standard, I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for our country.” 

With the threat of a shutdown looming, members raced to pass the bill in the Senate; however, late objections by some senators representing energy-sensitive states threatened to derail approval of the bill.

Following approval in the House, legislation was delayed in the Senate over extending healthcare benefits for coal miners and their families.  Some Democrats, particularly West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin, opposed the bill because a bankrupt coal miners’ health care program was extended for only four months.

Describing the lack of long-term health insurance “callous,” Manchin eventually capitulated after Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) announced the bill would not be held hostage to one issue.

The stopgap measure approved by the Senate was signed by Mr. Obama early Saturday morning.

Included in the continuing resolution (CR): $170 million to overhaul the infrastructure of communities with lead-contaminated drinking water, $4.1 billion in disaster relief to rebuild areas affected by Hurricane Matthew, $870 million to fund the 21st Century Cures Act, and maintaining the fiscal 2017 budget cap level of $1.07 trillion from the 2011 Budget Control Act.

 

[The Hill] [Photo courtesy Jacquelyn Martin/AP via Washington Times]