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House Passes Seven-Week Stopgap Spending Bill in Hopes of Avoiding October Shutdown

The Senate must still pass the bill.

The House on Thursday approved 301-123 a stopgap spending measure that will keep agencies afloat through Nov. 21 and avoid a shutdown in October. 

The measure will now move to the Senate, where lawmakers are at odds over how to proceed with their own spending legislation. Democratic leadership in the House opted to move forward with the continuing resolution to give the two chambers more time to pass their own appropriations bills and subsequently reconcile the differences between them. 

The House has already passed most of the 12 annual spending measures, while the Senate is just beginning that work. The stopgap bill on Thursday won near unanimous support from Democrats, while a majority of Republicans voted against it. 

The bill would largely keep agencies funded at their current levels, but it provides for some specific changes. The Office of Personnel Management, for example, would receive a slight funding boost to offset fees it surrendered when it transferred background investigation functions to the Defense Department. OPM had previously threatened to furlough employees due to the funding shortfall. The stopgap measure also would give a spending increase to the Census Bureau to enable it to proceed with preparations for its decennial count. 

While the Senate is expected to take up the short-term bill next week, its long-term prospects remain unclear. Democrats in the upper chamber blocked some appropriations bills from advancing this week, citing opposition to the Trump administration’s plans to transfer funding toward construction of new barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said the seven-week CR would give lawmakers plenty of time to sort out a resolution. Lawmakers have already agreed to top-line funding levels for fiscal 2020 through a two-year budget deal President Trump signed into law over the summer. 

“There is no reason on God's green earth we cannot complete our business on the appropriations process by Nov. 21,” Hoyer said. “Not a single reason, expect procrastination and an unwillingness to compromise."