House Passes 5-Day Spending Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

 House Passes 5-Day Spending Bill to Avert Government Shutdown

Cindy Saine
Compared to recent high-stakes government funding showdowns in the U.S. House of Representatives, Friday’s House action was calm and understated.After only a few minutes of debate, the House passed a short-term, 5-day spending bill by a quick voice vote.

Since the Senate passed a similar measure Thursday, the bill is expected to be quickly signed by President Barack Obama to prevent any agencies from shutting down after midnight Friday. New House Speaker Paul Ryan has reassured his Republican members that budget negotiators will reach an agreement next week.

Republican Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers said he is also optimistic the House can pass a longer-term $1 trillion government funding bill next week, but added: «At this point, it is unfortunately necessary for us to have a little more time to complete our negotiations.»

Democratic ranking member Nita Lowey was not as happy with the status of ongoing budget negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in both the House and the Senate.

Lowey said the spending bill should provide relief to working Americans from previous harmful across-the-board spending cuts.

«Instead Republicans’ insistence on including dangerous, harmful policies in the spending bill has halted progress,» she said.

Gun control, other riders

The Republican policy measures attached to the bill, called riders, include measures to undo environmental protection policies and anti-abortion measures opposed by Democrats. Another sticking point is a disagreement on admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees. Democratic policy measures on gun control are likely to be rejected by Republicans.

Democrats have responded to last week’s San Bernardino shooting that left 14 people dead by trying unsuccessfully to get the House and Senate to pass gun control legislation.

House Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi pointed out that Monday will mark the third anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, which left 26 children and staff members dead.

«Sandy Hook and San Bernardino are bookends of a daily tragedy of gun violence that tears apart communities across the country,» she said. «Gun violence has claimed over 90,000 American lives in the past three years.»

Pelosi is asking that a provision be lifted from the spending bill that has banned federal research into the causes of gun violence for the past 17 years. Republicans argue that federal research advocates gun control legislation, which they broadly oppose.

A number of Republican House members have taken to the House floor to say the San Bernardino shootings that killed 14 people were an act of radical Islamic terrorism. They say Obama should be focusing on that and not on restricting Americans’ gun rights.

Next Wednesday is the new deadline for both the House and Senate to pass a year-end spending bill, so that members can leave town and return home for the long holiday recess without triggering a partial government shutdown.