In a Show of Bipartisanship, the U.S. House of Representatives successfully passed a temporary spending bill on Tuesday. The legislation, which aims to avert a government shutdown, received broad support from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. The bill now moves on to the Senate, where it is expected to gain support from both Democrats and Republicans.
To prevent a shutdown, it is crucial for both the Senate and the Republican-controlled House to pass the bill and have it signed into law by President Joe Biden before the current funding for federal agencies expires on Friday at midnight. House Speaker Mike Johnson, who recently assumed the position less than three weeks ago, celebrated the 336-95 vote as a victory. However, he faced opposition from some fellow Republicans, as his leadership was put to the test early on.
With a slim majority of 221-213, Johnson cannot afford to lose more than three Republican votes on legislation that Democrats oppose. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expressed his satisfaction with the bill’s passing and stated that he would work alongside his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to ensure its swift passage in the Senate.
The temporary spending bill will extend government funding at current levels into mid-January 2024. This extension grants lawmakers more time to develop detailed spending bills that cover various sectors, including the military and scientific research. Some Republicans on the party’s right-wing expressed frustration that the bill did not include their desired spending cuts and border-security measures.
The final vote count for the bill was 209 Democratic votes and 127 Republican votes in favor, with 93 Republicans and two Democrats voting against it. Johnson’s predecessor as speaker, Kevin McCarthy, faced a similar situation in September, resulting in his removal after relying on Democratic votes to avert a shutdown. However, Johnson’s fellow conservatives made it clear that while they didn’t support the bill, they still supported him as speaker.
Despite not being an ideal solution, many Republicans saw the bill as a preferable option compared to a government shutdown. Republican Representative Mike Garcia stated, “This isn’t ideal, but a shutdown is a far worse world to be in.”
If passed, Johnson’s bill would secure funding for military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration, and energy and water programs until January 19. However, funding for all other federal operations, including defense, would expire on February 2.
This marks the third fiscal standoff the Congress has faced this year. In the spring, a months-long deadlock over the U.S. debt, which totals over $31 trillion, nearly led to a default. The ongoing partisan deadlock has caused Moody’s credit rating agency to lower its outlook on the U.S. credit rating to “negative,” citing high interest rates that will continue to drive up borrowing costs.