House Approves Stopgap Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB/Shutterstock

The House on Wednesday approved a measure to keep government agencies open through mid-December by a 319-108 vote, and the bill will now head to the Senate where it is expected to receive final approval.

Desperate to avoid a government shutdown before the November midterm election, lawmakers opted to fund agencies at the same levels they received in fiscal 2014. The measure would appropriate $1.01 trillion between Oct. 1 and Dec. 11.

The stopgap bill is mum on President Obama’s request to grant federal employees a 1 percent, across-the-board raise in 2015, effectively allowing the pay bump to go through. Congress, which is set to recess this week until after the election, would aim to pass an omnibus appropriations bill when it returns. Lawmakers could theoretically block the pay raise at that time, though they have yet to show any interest in doing so.

Lawmakers extensively debated, as they did on Tuesday, an amendment on Obama’s request to authorize further military strikes to “degrade and destroy” the radical Islamist group ISIS as well as training and arming the opposition. The amendment was ultimately agreed to.

Democratic and Republican leaders in the Senate have indicated their chamber will vote Thursday to approve the bill as passed by the House on Wednesday. The measure would then be sent to the president, who is expected to sign it into law.

If passed by the Senate, the CR would extend the charter of the Export-Import Bank—set to expire Sept. 30—through June 2015. Bank officials said they would not have been forced to shut their doors come Oct. 1 in the absence of congressional action, but the agency’s 400 employees would have been out of a job when its portfolio reached maturity.

The CR also includes a boost in funding for the Veterans Affairs Department to investigate potential impropriety in manipulating waitlist data and retaliating against whistleblowers. It would increase appropriations to reduce VA’s disability claims backlog and allow Customs and Border Protection the flexibility to move funds around so it can maintain current workforce levels.

The measure avoids more controversial provisions, such as addressing the U.S. Postal Service’s plan to close 82 facilities nationwide in 2015. A majority of senators and 160 House representatives wrote to their respective appropriations committees asking that any spending bill delay closures for one year.

(Image via Philip Bird LRPS CPAGB/Shutterstock.com)

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