House approves funding bill until next week
Without a glitch -- and with hardly any lawmakers present -- the House on Thursday agreed to a measure funding the government through Tuesday, when members will consider yet another Senate-passed stopgap measure to keep the government running until mid-November.
Although adoption of Thursday's "bridge" measure by unanimous consent during a pro forma session was drama free, House Republican leaders say they cannot promise smooth sailing for Tuesday's vote when -- at least technically -- any obstacle could provoke another showdown.
The office of House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said it is too early to tell whether that continuing resolution will face hurdles on Tuesday, and that leadership will have a better sense when their unpredictable conference returns to Washington on Monday.
However, the measure on Tuesday likely will have the backing of House Democrats, making the prospects of passage less tenuous, even if Republicans should oppose it.
The Democratic-led Senate's passage this week of both the "bridge" version to keep government operations going through Tuesday, and the second, longer continuing resolution to keep funding level until Nov. 18 occurred as government funding was set to dry up with Friday's close of the fiscal year, and no FY12 budget in place.
That Senate action was the product of a deal worked out between that chamber's majority Democrats and Republicans, and includes $2.5 billion in disaster funding, and no disputed offsets.
Thursday's action in the House took place while the chamber was officially in recess this week. As a result, a short-term bill was necessitated that could be approved in a pro forma session without members being present, and in what is typically a routine parliamentary process. Still, there has been enough uncertainty surrounding this Congress's ability to compromise, or even carry out the most routine business, that reporters were gathered in the House gallery just in case things took an unexpected turn.
They did not. Appropriations Committee member John Culberson, R-Texas, was on House floor at 11 a.m. House Budget Ranking Democrat Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., was sitting on the Democratic side of the chamber. Culberson rose to address the near-empty chamber, requesting unanimous consent to pass the Senate's bridge CR. Then, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who was presiding in the speaker's chair, asked if there were any objection, and there were none.
Had just a single member shown up to object, the carefully crafted compromise would have fallen apart.