House Delays Vote on Measure to Prevent Government Shutdown

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The House Republican leadership has delayed a vote on keeping the government open past Sept. 30, according to Capitol Hill staff.

A House GOP aide confirmed that the vote on a stopgap measure to fund federal agencies from the start of fiscal 2014 on Oct. 1 until Dec. 15 has been pushed to next week.

The full House was expected to vote on the continuing resolution on Wednesday or Thursday; the chamber is not in session Friday or Monday, and has a recess scheduled for the week of Sept. 23. That means the House only has five legislative days left to approve a CR and avoid a government shutdown.

Partisan politics reportedly once again upended the legislative process. The House continuing resolution is linked to a concurrent resolution that defunds the 2010 Affordable Care Act, so a vote for the CR would mean approval for the measure to starve Obamacare of money. But the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party views that plan, shepherded by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., as toothless because it gives the Senate the opportunity to scrap the language and approve a “clean” CR avoiding a government shutdown.

The Republican leadership, which believes the GOP would be blamed for a government shutdown, now must secure votes from conservatives who want binding language on defunding Obamacare included in the measure to fund the government for the next two months.

The continuing resolution unveiled by the House Appropriations Committee funds most federal programs at roughly their current, post–sequestration levels; however, it does provide wiggle room in some areas “to prevent catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental impacts on government programs, or to ensure good government and program oversight,” according to a committee summary.

Wildfire suppression efforts and Veterans Affairs Department disability claims processing, for instance, would receive boosts. The resolution would grant the Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureaus funding flexibility to maintain current staffing levels.

The stopgap measure also contains a provision stating that agencies may increase their rate of spending on civilian pay and benefits if necessary to avoid furloughs, after exhausting other options for reducing or deferring non-personnel-related costs.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., emphasized the measure is a temporary solution.

“This is not the preferred way of doing the nation’s financial work – this Congress can and should be passing regular appropriations bills that reflect the country’s changing fiscal needs and realities,” he said in a statement. “However, given the late date, a continuing resolution is necessary to stop a governmentwide shut down that would halt critical government programs and services, destabilize our economy, and put the safety and well-being of our citizens at risk.”

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