The GOP-controlled House has passed legislation seeking to keep the government open for another week while funding the Pentagon through September. But Senate Democrats oppose it, and President Barack Obama has promised a veto should the bill reach him.
Obama called the measure a distraction from ongoing negotiations on a full-year spending bill.
A partial government shutdown looms at midnight Friday. Quarreling consumed the Capitol on Thursday, even as top congressional negotiators went to the White House for more talks with Obama.
The final vote was 287-181, with several Democrats crossing the aisle to support the compromise. The President is digging in his heels with a veto threat:
The Administration strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 1363, making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011, and for other purposes. As the President stated on April 5, 2011, if negotiations are making significant progress, the Administration would support a short-term, clean Continuing Resolution to allow for enactment of a final bill.
If presented with this bill, the President will veto it.
I agree that another Band-Aid style fix isn't ideal, but given the ongoing stalemate over the larger CR question, I wonder if Democrats are playing with fire here. This House-passed bill keeps the government running at full strength for another week and allows negotiations to continue. It cuts billions in wasteful spending, including hundreds of millions from the Pentagon's budget -- typically a conservative sacred cow. It denies taxpayer dollars for abortions in DC and blocks funding for transferring Guantanamo Bay detainees. Are the Democrats who control the Senate and occupy the White House really going to allow the government to partially shut down tomorrow by opposing this bipartisan bill? Are they willing to go to the mat over $12 billion in cuts and two riders (abortion, Gitmo) that enjoy super-majority support among Americans?
Over the last 24 hours, Harry Reid has been prattling on about the need for hard choices in the Continuing Resolution discussion. How persuasive is a call for "hard choices" from a man who (a) doesn't support virtually any of the actual hard choices contained in the Ryan budget, and (b) can't abide the "hard choice" of de-funding regional cowboy poetry festivals?
The President says he's prepared to shut down the federal government via his veto pen in the face of a reasonable, unobjectionable, time-buying bipartisan gambit. Go ahead, Mr. President.
UPDATE: Democrats have been arguing that the problem with GOP-supported CR proposals is the policy riders attached to them. Politico notes that Democrats haven't objected to certain policy riders in the past...their own ones.
UPDATE II: Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell reacts with dismay to the president's veto threat:
“There is nothing in the bipartisan troop funding bill that the House passed today that has not already been agreed to by Democrats in Congress, or requested by the administration. It funds our troops at a time when our military is engaged in three overseas conflicts, it cuts Washington spending by an amount that Democrat leaders have already said is reasonable, and the policy prescriptions it contains have been previously agreed to by nearly every Democrat in the Senate and signed into law by the President. And let’s not forget, this is the only proposal out there that keeps the government open. I also disagree with the President’s characterization of this bipartisan troop funding bill as a ‘distraction.’ If the President wants to shut down the government over this bipartisan troop funding bill, that is his prerogative. But I would urge him to reconsider his veto threat and join us in preventing a shutdown instead. This is the only bill that would do that. He should sign it.”
UPDATE III: Senate Democrats are objecting to the new temporary CR partially based on its abortion-related rider, which blocks federal funds from paying for abortions in Washington, DC. The problem with that argument? It turns out that 49 of them have voted for appropriations bills that contained the exact same language in the past.