House Says Yes to Spending Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

Mike O'Brien
Posted: 03/21/2013

Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and fund federal agencies through September.

The House voted 318-109, moving the legislation along to President Obama to sign into law.

The move appears to show an easing of the deadlocked budget wars that have dogged Washington for months and has left the public frustrated at the inability of Congress to make a decision.

It comes one day after the Democrat-dominated Senate voted 73-26 in favor of the legislation.

This time, Republicans chose not to use the threat of federal agencies running out of money and shutting down as a way of forcing deep spending cuts, Reuters reports.

Instead, they plan to push for a deficit reduction centered on proposals from House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. The House on Thursday also backed Mr. Ryan’s budget blueprint to wipe out U.S. deficits within 10 years by making hefty cuts in healthcare and social programs.

The funding bill does not avert the sequester: the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts remain in place. But it does allow the U.S. military and several domestic agencies to prioritize on who gets hit with the cuts.

Most notable in Mr. Ryan's budget plan is the repeal of President Obama's health care reforms and it sets forth the Republicans position for fiscal battles this year, and congressional elections in 2014.

The House voted 221-207 to approve Mr. Ryan's provisional budget resolution. Ten Republican and all the Democrats opposed it.

Related: Government Agencies Stretched Near Breaking Point

Some conservative Republicans have argued that, despite the cuts, the new legislation still has too much wasteful spending in it.

Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma argued against the inclusion of $154 million in Pentagon alternative energy research funding, $120 million for infrastructure improvements in Guam, and $65 million for Pacific coast salmon restoration.

"The bill contains numerous examples of egregious pork barrel projects," Mr. McCain said last week.

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Mike O'Brien
Posted: 03/21/2013