Federal government avoids shutdown
The House of Representatives passed a short-term measure to fund the government Wednesday afternoon, and President Obama signed it, averting the immediate threat of a government shutdown - for now.
The bill only funds the government through Dec. 11, setting up another battle just before the holiday season.
The House passed the bill - which the Senate approved earlier Wednesday -- by a vote of 277 to 151.
The Senate's actions help put to rest any lingering concerns that a fight over whether to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood would turn into an intractable fight prevented lawmakers from funding other operations. After a series of videos were released showing the organization's executives discussing the procurement of fetal body parts for medical research, some members of the GOP vowed to cut off all of Planned Parenthood's federal funding.
Last week, Senate Democrats blocked a bill that would have stripped Planned Parenthood of taxpayer funding, while it also would have allocated money for the rest of the government. When that failed, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky put a so-called "clean" continuing resolution on the calendar that would keep the entire government running (and would also continue funding Planned Parenthood at current levels).
But news that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, would resign seemed to help convince lawmakers to put off the fight over Planned Parenthood funding until later in the year. When Boehner appeared on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday, he offered an unequivocal "no" when asked if there would be a government shutdown Wednesday evening.
The legislation sets up another fight in Congress in December when the current funding bill would expire. Republican leaders have already talked about using an obscure budget tool called reconciliation to end funding for Planned Parenthood when they write a longer government funding bill.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday that Republicans will need to work with House and Senate Democrats if they want to try crafting a longer-term budget deal.
"Republicans are going to need to work with Democrats in Congress to pass compromise legislation. And that's why we have insisted at every turn that if Republicans in Congress are interested in negotiations, then they should walk over to Senator Reid's office and to Leader Pelosi's office, and accept their invitation to engage in bipartisan negotiations," he said. "Republicans are going to need the support of Democrats in the House and the Senate in order to pass this legislation."