House passes four-week spending bill; fate in Senate uncertain
House Republicans pushed through a bill Thursday to keep the federal government open for another four weeks after GOP leaders promised to boost defense spending in a separate bill next month.
By a vote of 230-to-197, the House sent the bill to the Senate where Democrats have vowed to block it because it does not offer legal guarantees for the children of undocumented immigrants, a program known as the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals, or DACA.
Because the bill needs 60 votes to win Senate approval, the federal government could partially close at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013 if the bill collapses in the Senate. But Thursday’s House vote intensifies pressure on the Senate to keep the government open.
“The House has done its job, and I hope the Senate will follow suit,” said Rep. Steve Stivers, a suburban Columbus Republican.
Some Senate Democrats such as Sherrod Brown of Ohio are likely to support the temporary spending measure because it extends for six years a program he strongly supports which provides health coverage to 220,000 low-income children in Ohio.
The program, the 1997 Children’s Health Insurance Program and known as CHIP, is popular with both political parties while governors such as Republican John Kasich and Ohio hospitals have beseeched Congress to extend the program. It expired at the end of last September, forcing Congress to extend it with temporary spending measures.
Among area lawmakers, Stivers joined Republicans Jim Jordan of Urbana, Bill Johnson of Marietta, David Joyce of Russell Township, and Bob Gibbs of Lakeville to support the measure while Democrats Joyce Beatty of Columbus, Marcia Fudge of Cleveland, and Tim Ryan of Niles opposed it.
Beatty said while she supported the children’s health program, she complained she could not vote “in favor of another temporary funding bill loaded with a ‘wish list’ of Republican partisan priorities that only kicks the can down the road for another four weeks.”
The major obstacle for House Republicans was their insistence that billions of additional federal dollars be provided for national defense. Under a 2013 law aimed at restraining spending, the government could not spend more $549 billion for defense in the 2018 federal spending year.
Turner said while “we’re in the sad position of having to vote for another” temporary bill “which shortchanges our men and women in uniform,” he said Ryan has “a strong commitment for a two–year funding package for our military that is in the best interest of our military.”
If the government shuts down Friday night, the mail would still get delivered, the post offices will remain open, the Army, Navy and Air Force operate as usual, and Americans receive their Social Security checks. Medicare and Medicaid continue to function.
The state in 2016 had 77,400 federal employees, of which 5,250 were on active duty with the Air Force. Air Force civilian employment was 13,838, almost all at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton
In the past, civilian workers were furloughed, although they were paid when the government re-opened. In the 2013 shutdown, 50 workers at the Defense Supply Center in Whitehall were furloughed.
The vote highlighted what has become a recurring drama in Washington, confirming once again voters’ fears that the federal government seems to lurch from one budgetary crisis to the next.
But with the stock market roaring and the economy expanding, there is intense pressure from Wall Street and U.S. companies on Washington to settle their differences without the chaos created by a partial government shutdown.
After a confusing presidential tweet created today doubts about whether the White House backed the bill, White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Trump “supports the continuing resolution introduced in the House.”
“Congress needs to do its job and provide full funding of our troops and military with a two year budget caps deal.” Shah said. “However, as the deal is negotiated, the president wants to ensure our military and national security are funded. He will not let it be held hostage by Democrats.”