After weeks of struggling to compromise on a spending bill, Congress voted on Wednesday to avert a government shutdown and extended funding for government agencies until the 11th of December.
Just hours before the midnight deadline, the House of Representatives passed a bill that was passed by the Senate a couple of hours earlier with a vote of 78-20. The House passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 277-151. A Republican majority voted against the bill, because conservatives urged for defunding the women’s healthcare organization Planned Parenthood.
However, in a mostly partisan vote the House passed a separate measure with a defunding provision for Planned Parenthood, but Senate is not expected to pass it, making it a symbolic House vote. According to Reuters, the funding bill reached President Barack Obama’s desk later on Wednesday and he signed it into law. He stated “The good news is that it looks like the Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government for the second time in two years. That’s somewhat low bar but we should celebrate where we can. The bad news is that it looks like Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government again for the second time in two years.”
Conservatives have been clashing with Democrat legislators over the funding of Planned Parenthood, after a release of secretly taped videos of Planned Parenthood officials selling aborted fetal tissue to biological companies for profits, as the Republican Party claims. The healthcare provider denying the allegation and said everything they do is legal.
Planned Parenthood keeps its federal funding with the extension bill, which gives Obama and Congressional leaders ten more weeks to construct a new long-term budget deal in order to regulate spending constraints on domestic and military spending.
According to Reuters, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that even thought Obama signed the stopgap funding measure; legislators should work on a budget that reverses spending cuts known as sequestration. He stated “The American people deserve far better than last minute, short-term legislation.”
However, House Speaker John Boehner’s resignation last week does not ease this process, with Republicans struggling to find a new Speaker, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pushing Obama to bypass House and Senate Democrat leaders and open direct talks with him.
Congress barely averted a government shutdown and approved a temporary legislation to keep the federal agencies running at current levels starting the new fiscal year on the 1st of October; however, reaching a reasonable compromise on fiscal policy among House Democrats and Republicans is not in sight any time soon.