WASHINGTON — The Republican-led House narrowly passed a temporary spending bill to avert a government shutdown Thursday, doing the bare minimum in a sprint toward the holidays, and punting disputes on immigration, health care and national security to next year.
The vote was 231-188 with Democrats criticizing Republicans’ inability to complete the dozen spending bills for the current fiscal year and relying on a third stopgap bill since the year’s Oct. 1 start. The Senate was expected to vote on the short-term legislation late Thursday.
Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., called the result “an epic failure of governing,” adding “the Republican majority has made a complete mess of the basics of governing.”
The wrap-up measure allows Republicans controlling Washington to savor their win on this week’s $1.5 trillion tax package — even as they kick a full lineup of leftover work into the new year. Congress will return in January, facing enormous challenges on immigration, the federal budget, health care and national security, along with legislation to increase the government’s authority to borrow money.
Each of those items is sure to test the unity Republicans are enjoying now.
“The more stuff that’s pushed into January, it’s unfortunate because we’ll have to do this all over again,” said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. “But at some point, we’ve got to make the hard decisions.”
The House then passed, by a bipartisan 251-169 tally, a $81 billion measure to deliver rebuilding aid to hurricane victims in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other parts of the Caribbean, as well as fire-ravaged states. But the Senate was unlikely to go along as both Republicans and Democrats want changes.
The stopgap legislation would keep the government from closing down at midnight Friday. It has traversed a tortured path, encountering resistance from the GOP’s most ardent allies of the military, as well as opposition from Democrats who demanded but were denied a vote on giving immigrants brought illegally to the country as children an opportunity to become citizens.
President Trump rescinded a Barack Obama order giving these so-called Dreamers protection against deportation, kicking the issue to Congress with a March deadline.
Trump and Republicans are pushing for additional border security and other immigration steps in exchange. The vast majority of Republicans want to see a DACA solution. They just want to see a DACA solution that’s balanced,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.