WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress on Thursday sent President Joe Biden a short-term spending bill that would avert a looming partial government shutdown and fund federal agencies through March.
The House approved the bill by a vote of 314-108, with opposition largely coming from more conservative members of the Republican conference. Just before the vote, the House Freedom Caucus announced it was “strongly opposed” to the bill, saying it would encourage more spending than it supports.
Still, about half of Republicans joined with Democrats to pass a stopgap funding package for the third time in recent months. The action came hours after the Senate passed the bill by an overwhelming vote of 77-18.
The measure would extend current spending levels and buy time for the two chambers to resolve differences over a full-year spending bill for the fiscal year that begins in October.
The interim measures will continue until March 1 for some federal agencies. Their funds were scheduled to run out on Friday. The remaining government operations will be extended until March 8th.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the president would sign the resolution and called on Republicans to stop wasting time on partisan spending bills.
Jean-Pierre said, “House Republicans are finally doing their job and passing the president's additional demands that will benefit the American people and address urgent domestic and national security priorities throughout the year.” “We must work across the aisle to pass a funding bill.”
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana) is under pressure from the right to scrap the $1.66 trillion spending bill he agreed to with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer earlier this month. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) said the continuing resolution passed Thursday would advance that agreement and urged his colleagues to vote no.
“It's Groundhog Day every day in the House of Representatives, and once again we're spending money we don't have,” Roy said.
Mr Johnson has insisted he will stick to the deal, and the party's centrist wing also backs him. They argue that changing course now would contradict his words and weaken him in future negotiations.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said Americans expect Congress to govern and function in a bipartisan manner.
“Some of my colleagues may think this government is going to be shut down, and I don't care how harmful that is,” DeLauro said.
House Republicans have fought fiercely over budget levels and policies since winning the majority in early 2023. Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted by his caucus in October after agreeing with Democrats to extend current spending for the first year. time. Mr Johnson has also faced criticism as he struggles to appease party members and avoid a government shutdown in an election year.
“We needed a little more time on the calendar to do that, and that's where we are now,” Johnson said Tuesday of the decision to extend federal funding again. “We can't have everything we want.”
Most House Republicans have so far refrained from saying that Johnson's job is in jeopardy. But a revolt by even a small number of Republicans could jeopardize his standing in the narrowly divided House.
Rep. Bob Good of Virginia, one of eight Republicans who voted to expel Mr. McCarthy, has urged Mr. Johnson to reconsider his deal with Mr. Schumer.
“If you know that the other side of your negotiation fears the consequences of not reaching an agreement more than you fear the consequences of not reaching an agreement, you will lose every time.” he said this week.
Other Republicans agree that Johnson is in a difficult position. “The speaker was dealt with with a dealt hand,” said Representative Andy Barr of Kentucky, pointing to the constraints imposed by his party's slim majority.
In Thursday afternoon's vote, 107 House Republicans voted to maintain funding for federal agencies, and 106 voted against the bill. The near loss of much of the press conference highlights the challenges facing the new speaker and suggests it will be difficult to strike a deal that does not alienate many of his Republican colleagues. They are calling for further cuts in non-defense spending and a myriad of conservative policy mandates.
Meanwhile, 207 Democratic members of Congress voted in favor of the resolution, with only two voting against it.
The short-term measures come amid negotiations on another spending package that would provide wartime funding to Ukraine and Israel and strengthen security at the U.S.-Mexico border. Johnson is also under pressure from the right not to accept a weaker deal than the border measures passed in the House of Commons, which have no support from Democrats.
Johnson, Schumer and other congressional leaders and committee chairs visited the White House on Wednesday to discuss the spending bill. Johnson used the meeting to push for stronger border security, while Biden and Democrats detailed Ukraine's security needs as it continues its fight against Russia.
Biden has called for $110 billion in wartime spending and border security.
Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri, Lisa Mascaro and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.