House passes bill to keep government open past March 27

Measure preserves automatic spending cuts that went into effect Friday.
Wire
Mar 7, 2013

 

The House of Representatives took the first step Wednesday toward keeping the federal government open after March 27, passing a bill to extend spending levels through Sept. 30 and preserving the automatic spending cuts that went into effect Friday.

The House bill would make one change in the recent automatic spending cuts, called a sequester: It would give the military and veterans programs officials more flexibility to shift the cuts around their departments to minimize impacts. The House adopted the plan to extend government financing by a vote of 267-151.

While the Democratic Senate is likely to propose changes, the tone of the debate in the House and support from 53 Democrats for the GOP proposal suggested an eagerness to avoid a partial government shutdown when current funding runs out for a share of the government. At the same time, President Barack Obama planned a dinner Wednesday night with a group of Republican senators at a downtown hotel and visits to the Capitol next week. A meeting with Senate Republicans at the Capitol next week will be his first such outreach in three years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the prospects for an agreement to keep the government open past March 27. The Senate is expected to consider a plan next week.

The measure involves discretionary spending in the $3.55 trillion federal budget, the portion that Congress and Obama can more easily control. Not included are programs subject to automatic increases, such as Social Security and certain health care benefits.

The Democrats’ chief complaint with the House bill was its acceptance of the sequester for domestic programs. But the White House was gentle in its criticism, avoiding a veto threat and saying it was “pleased” that the bill maintained spending levels.

It did say, though, that the bill “raises concerns about the government’s ability to protect consumers, avoid deep cuts in critical services that families depend on, and implement critical domestic priorities such as access to quality and affordable health care.”

The statement reflected the tranquil mood toward the funding measure, a possible sign that Washington is aware the public and the financial markets have had enough bickering.

“We were badly damaged by this fighting,” said Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. “When we go home people are saying, ‘You guys need to sit down and work things out.’ Both sides are hearing that.”

Including Obama. When he meets with Senate Republicans March 14, it will be the first time he’s visited the caucus at the Capitol in nearly three years. He’s already begun calling senators, talking about the budget, immigration and other matters.

In the meantime, the debate Wednesday was a recitation of familiar partisan themes. Both sides railed against sequestration, and how the bill was keeping the automatic cuts alive for six more months.

“This is crazy. I really believe that both sides of this little bubble here in Washington — there is a bipartisan consensus that what we’re doing here is crazy … mindless, senseless across-the-board cuts and no urgency,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. “There’s a little snow on the ground, National Airport is closed, we can’t really go anywhere until it reopens. We ought to stay here and figure out an alternative to sequestration.”

Republicans also were not pleased. William “Mac” Thornberry, R-Texas, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said the bill, like sequestration, “is not what any of us like. … But as imperfect as this measure is, I believe that it is absolutely essential to pass it today.”

If nothing else, he said, it “makes sense, especially for defense. … Defense is the first job of the federal government. We send our soldiers and intelligence community personnel to all parts of the world to defend us. The least we can do is to give them the flexibility and support to do their jobs.”

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By David Lightman and William Douglas - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

©2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Comments

arnmcrmn

More can kicking by our so called leaders.....how surprising.

jack langhals

What was it Ronnie said,"We are only one generation away from destruction'and Madison said"Without The American Constitution,the whole world would be in anarchy"and Ovomit said"Let's bring the whole fleet into port at one time for inspection"

jack langhals

These people making the decisions to make or break this country are really handicapped.Feinstein to ticket agent,I would like a flight to Pepsi Cola,Fla.Georgia Congressman to House,no more marines on Guam ,it will tip the island.Congressman Moore to agent,I would like a ticket to Capetown ,Mass.Congressman Bernie Sanders chewing out agent because he didn't have a ocean view in Orlando.He said he should have because it is a thin state.Landa Reed asked if you could see London from Canada.An aid for Napolitano wanted to rent a car at Dallas airport between gates.Jan Kakoski wanted to know how she cold leave Detroit at 8;30 and get to Chi Town at 8;33.Kerry's Aid wanted to know if it would be cheaper to take the train from Frisco to Honolulu.Bobby Bright D from Ala wanted to know how he would know what plane to get on because there was no numbers on them.A Dem Senator fro La going to
China was told she needed a Visa and she said she had been there 4 times and they always accepted American Express.Now these are the smart ones,I don't have time for the rest !One more, a lady senator wanted an isle seat so her hair wouldn't get messed up !You elected them !

mikeylikesit

they should shut the government down before more damage is done by those clowns.