Late last night, the House passed (albeit barely, on a 219–203 vote) a continuing resolution (CR) to fund the government through November 18. The measure is very similar to the one that failed to pass on Wednesday, and which 47 Republicans helped defeat. In an effort to win more GOP votes, House leaders included an additional $100 million cut to the Department of Energy loan program that helped fund Solyndra. A quick rundown of the bill:
- Contains a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut to domestic and defense spending, as agreed to in the Budget Control Act.
- Totals $1.043 trillion and funds the government through November 18.
- Includes $3.65 billion in disaster-relief funding over the next 13 months, $1.6 billion of which is offset by cutting the DOE program and another federal loan program that supports the production of fuel-efficient cars.
Twenty-three Republicans voted against the bill, and six Democrats voted yes. The Senate is now considering the House bill, but has vowed to block it. The Senate has already passed a disaster-relief package containing $6.9 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), none of which is offset. Democrats have indicated they might be willing to forgo the additional funding provided that the spending offsets included in the House bill are stripped out.
House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) recently told reporters that he had spoken to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), but “there wasn’t much progress made.” Having already passed a bill, the House is leaving town for the weekend, but has not ruled out coming back to work next week, when they are supposed to be on recess. Congress has until September 30 (when the previous CR expires) to pass a new measure or the government will “shutdown.” The FEMA, on the other hand, is expected to run out of money in the next couple of days.
UPDATE: The Senate voted 59–36 to table the House bill, and it appears they will vote soon on an amendment that would keep the House-level of disaster funding ($3.65 billion) but remove the spending offsets.
UPDATE II: Harry Reid has decided to amend the House bill by stripping out the spending offsets and hold a vote this coming Monday. On the Senate floor, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) told Reid he did not have the 60 vote necessary for passage, and offered to hold the vote today to prove as much. Reid, however, despite repeatedly warning that FEMA will run out of money on Monday, insisted that the vote be held next week in order to give lawmakers a chance to “take a look” at the proposed legislation.
Speaking to reporters in the Capitol, Reid urged House Republican leaders to “cool off” while remaining in Washingtonian over the weekend to negotiate. Asked if he could accept spending offsets under any circumstances, Reid responded with a firm “no.” He said the offsets included in the House bill were “job-destroying” measures and “we should not have to kill jobs to provide disaster relief to people in need.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D., Md.) said he was confident the amended bill would pass the House, and could be done by unanimous consent, meaning that members would not have to return to Washington next week, when they are scheduled to be on recess, in order to pass it. The House has already left for the weekend.