Congress Passes One-Week Spending Bill, Avoids Shutdown
The House passed a one-week extension of government funding on Friday to prevent a government shutdown, and the Senate followed suit despite Democrats still harboring some objections to "poison pill" riders in the larger spending package lawmakers have been negotiating to fund the government for the rest of the fiscal year.
The extension, considered Friday with just hours to go before a shutdown, is meant to buy Congress more time to reach an agreement on a larger spending package.
In the Senate, Republicans tried to pass the bill on Thursday night, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said all 52 Republicans were on board, but Minority Leader Chuck Schumer objected, insisting a deal first be reached on the larger spending package before agreeing to pass the one-week extension.
But Friday morning, Schumer said the negotiations had progressed to the point where he was comfortable moving forward, noting that the "four corners" of the negotiations – leaders of both parties in the House and Senate and in the appropriations committees – had worked until early Friday to hammer out the details of the agreement.
"We still have several issues to address. Our Republican friends – mostly in the House, I want to say my friend the Republican leader is really working hard to get a good bill done and I appreciate that – but Republicans are holding us up on some critical poison pill riders," Schumer said Friday on the Senate floor. "But we've made good enough progress ... we're willing to have a voice vote in the hopes we can wrap this up early next week."
Schumer noted some outstanding issues still need to be addressed before Democrats agree to the underlying bill, but noted Democrats had won some victories to obtain increases in funding for housing assistance, year-round Pell Grants and the National Institutes of Health.
"We're happy to pass clean, bipartisan appropriations bills; that's the way this process is supposed to work," he said. "On the more controversial issues, we can have a debate in regular order. They shouldn't be stuck in these bills with no debate, and no discussion, and no votes – no regular order voting."
Part of their objection had been Republicans' renewed push to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the health care law also known as Obamacare, an effort that seems to have once again stalled in the House after a breakthrough earlier this week.
"If Republicans pursue this partisan path of forcing Americans to pay more for less and destabilizing our county's health care system – without even knowing how much their bill will cost – Republicans should be prepared to pass a one-week continuing resolution on their own," House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said in a statement Thursday night.