Returning to Washington for a brief session between their summer recess and fall campaign season, the House of Representatives on Thursday passed a spending bill funding the government into the next year.
The funding extension, known as a Continuing Resolution (CR), keeps to the $1.047 trillion spending agreement reached between the parties and avoids a government shutdown until March 27, 2013, nearly five months after the November election. The federal government has continually relied on short-term funding extensions since 2009, the last time the Democrat-controlled Senate passed a traditional budget plan that set spending levels.
"This bill is very restricted in its scope, does not contain extensive or controversial policy riders or funding levels that dramatically differ from current levels, and protects critical funding for our national defense," said House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, Republican of Kentucky. "The legislation reflects the bipartisan agreement made by the House and Senate leadership and the White House to prevent a government shutdown, maintain the programs and services critical to the American people, and provide certainty and stability to ensure our continued economic recovery."
The bill, which passed 329-91, survived a challenge among the chamber's more conservative members, who requested even lower spending levels. Right-of-center groups like the Club for Growth urged members not to comply with Republican House leadership in supporting the bill because it funds the federal health care law, continues current levels of spending and approves of President Barack Obama's recent overhaul of national welfare programs.
(The House is expected to pass an additional bill in order to show disapproval of the welfare change. Like the repeated votes to repeal the health care law, that bill is not expected to pass the Senate, but will act as a protest vote.)
On hand Thursday was Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who took a brief hiatus from the campaign trail to vote in favor of the spending continuation.