Congress to Vote on Stopgap Spending Bill

Congress to Vote on Stopgap Spending Bill

Yesterday, appropriators in the House released the text of a bill to prevent a government shutdown when the fiscal year ends on October 1. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed on the bill’s outline, and the House and Senate are expected to vote on the measure this week. Passage in the Senate seems assured. 

According to The Hill, the bill increases the rate of spending by $19 billion more than what some House Republicans wanted, and it includes an across-the-board spending increase of 0.6 percent, which amounts to more than $6 billion. 

As a result, some conservatives in the House who wanted more spending cuts may not vote for the agreement.

The Obama administration wanted a .5 percent increase for federal workers, but the bill freezes their pay until March 27 while allocating $88.5 billion for the country’s wars, which is what the Pentagon requested. 

The bill also allows the STOCK Act, which bans insider trading by members of Congress, to be implemented. 

The bill does not, however, include an extension of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, which the Obama administration recently gutted by allowing states to more leniently define what constitutes “work” and, in some cases, even wave the work requirement. 

According to The Hill, Congress will vote on a bill next week that will include a provision to block the what the General Accounting Office (GAO) determined was a rule change to the Welfare Reform Act. 

Congress has to pass these stopgap measures because the Senate, which Democrats control, has not passed a budget in nearly four years and Obama, according to a new Bob Woodward book, had “gaps” in his leadership abilities that prevented him from effectively bringing Republicans and Democrats together for a “grand bargain” in 2011 on spending and the debt.

After the November elections, Congress will have to deal with the looming fiscal cliff during a lame-duck session. The Congressional Budget Office has said the combination of the Bush tax cuts expiring across-the-board and mandated spending cuts would send the country into an even more “significant recession.” 

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