Posted: 5:30 pm Wednesday, September 26th, 2018
By Jamie Dupree
With the public backing of President Donald Trump, the House on Wednesday joined the Senate in approving a funding package for the military, health research, education, and labor programs of the federal government, as well as extending a temporary budget for certain agencies to avoid a funding lapse when the fiscal year ends on September 30. The vote was 361-61, following a 93-7 vote in the Senate last week.
“We’re going to keep the government open,” the President said at the United Nations in New York, turning aside the possibility that he might reject the bill, which would have lead to a partial government shutdown.
“This funds the military, this funds opioids, this does a lot of the things that we all want to accomplish together,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan.
BREAKING: Trump says he will sign spending bill to avert shutdown: 'We're going to keep the government open'
— AP Politics (@AP_Politics) September 26, 2018
Signing this bill was not the first choice of the President and some more conservative Republicans, who wanted Mr. Trump to force a budget showdown with Democrats, using the threat of a shutdown at the end of the fiscal year to squeeze more money for his wall along the southern border with Mexico.
But Congressional leaders repeatedly warned against that strategy, worried it would boomerang against GOP lawmakers in the November mid-term elections.
The House vote means that Congress has completed five of the 12 bills which fund the operations of the federal government – departments and agencies funded by the seven remaining bills will be put on a temporary spending plan through December 7.
Speaker Ryan told reporters it was the best record on spending bills since 1996, which is the last time Congress got all of its budget work done on time, one of only four times in the last 44 years.
“We will have completed 75 percent of discretionary spending on time, first time in 22 years,” Ryan said.
The vote came amid more and more talk in the hallways of the Capitol that the House will work through this Friday – and then go home until after the November elections.
The original House schedule for this year had lawmakers working the first two weeks in October – instead, this move would give GOP members more time to go home and campaign, as Republicans are in a tough fight to maintain control of both the House and Senate.
“The House polling we’ve seen – both public and private – was already pretty terrible for Republicans, but has gotten noticeably worse since Labor Day,” said Dave Wasserman, an expert on House elections for the Cook Political Report.
While the House is expected to go home on Friday, Senate GOP leaders are talking about keeping the Senate in session, in order to keep certain Democratic Senators pinned down on Capitol Hill, limiting their campaign time back home.
The current House GOP plan is to finish with a flurry of votes on Republican bills which would make permanent a series of individual tax cuts signed into law at the end of 2017 by the President.
But that GOP messaging effort at the end of this week could well be swamped by the attention on the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.