The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly passed stopgap legislation to avert a government shutdown at midnight and buy time on reaching a deal on federal spending through the end of the fiscal year. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly passed stopgap legislation to avert a government shutdown at midnight and give lawmakers another week to reach a deal on federal spending through the end of the fiscal year. After the House passed the measure by a tally of 382-30, the legislation went the Senate, where Republican leaders hope to take it up later in the day, approve it and send it to President Donald Trump to sign into law. The bill in the Republican-led Congress provides federal funding until May 5, allowing lawmakers to hammer out legislation over the next few days to keep the government funded for the rest of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. Congress has been tied in knots over $1 trillion in spending priorities for months. Lawmakers were supposed to have taken care of the current fiscal year appropriations bills by last Oct. 1. "The legislation should pass today and it will carry us through next week so that a bipartisan agreement can be reached," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the opening of the Senate's session, noting cooperation from Democrats. While House Democrats strongly backed the legislation, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said progress was still needed in talks with Republicans before Democrats in the chamber can support the stopgap bill. During debate in the House, lawmakers expressed frustration at the inability of Congress to take care of the basic functions of government in a timely manner. "Let's make sure these basics are done for the American people and then let's get about the important business of changing their tax code and making sure they have the best healthcare in the world," said Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma. "We are seven months into the fiscal year," added Representative Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee. "Federal departments and agencies have been operating on outdated funding levels and policies for more than half of the year. This is unacceptable and it cannot continue." Lowey noted the legislation, known as a continuing resolution, was the third stopgap spending measure during the current fiscal year. In addition to opposition from Democrats, there are deep divisions among Republicans over exactly how to change the tax code and overhaul the U.S. healthcare system. The action on the spending bill came a day after House Republican leaders again put on hold a possible vote on major healthcare legislation sought by Trump to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, after moderates in the party balked at provisions added to entice hard-line conservatives. The government was last forced to close in October 2013, when Republican Senator Ted Cruz and some of the most conservative House Republicans engineered a 17-day shutdown in an unsuccessful quest to kill former Democratic President Barack Obama's healthcare law.