This was a vote on final passage of legislation funding federal government programs and agencies for one week. When the House voted on this bill, congressional leaders had already reached an agreement with President Obama on a long-term government-funding bill that would last through September 2011 (the end of the federal government’s fiscal year). However, the long-term funding measure had not yet been written in legislative language. Thus, the House brought up this short-term bill to prevent the federal government from shutting down while the long-term government-funding agreement was written in bill form.
The possibility of a government shutdown was the result of a sharp disagreement between House Republicans and Senate Democrats—as well as President Obama—over spending levels for government programs. Democrats had agreed to enact more than $30 billion in budget cuts, but Republicans had insisted on at least $60 billion. While President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), and Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) negotiated a compromise on federal spending, the House brought up this temporary government funding measure.
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), urged support for the bill: “The American people need and deserve to have a functioning government, but they also deserve a government that spends its taxpayer dollars responsibly, a government that won't saddle their children and grandchildren with unsustainable and reckless debt. Our constituents have sent us the message that the standard tax-and-spend culture in Washington is no longer acceptable. It has been the goal of this new Republican majority to keep precious tax dollars where they are needed most, in the hands of businesses and individuals across the Nation so that they can create jobs and grow our economy….While we continue to work, we must make responsible decisions to fund our troops and their families, keep the lights on in government, and continue to provide the services that Americans depend on every day.
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) also supported the bill: “I would like to thank the president and the leaders in the House and Senate on both sides for the compromise and for averting a government shutdown. I think there was a major decision made tonight by both parties and by the administration to keep the government open. That's what the American people sent us here to do. They sent us here to work out compromises, to be able to resolve issues and to move forward, and I think this is an example of that. Now, this CR will run for 1 week to April 15. It is basically a clean CR in the sense of there is no ideologically driven language.”
While no members spoke in opposition to the bill, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) released a written statement saying: “I am relieved that a government shutdown was averted tonight, but I am disappointed with the continued Republican efforts to strip funding for critical programs and services that millions of people depend on. Republicans want to finance their unpaid-for tax breaks for the wealthy on the backs of our most vulnerable populations and underserved communities. I cannot support this continuing resolution that will negatively impact millions of our most vulnerable populations: low- and middle-income people, the needy and the poor.”
The House passed this bill by a vote of 348-70. Voting “yea” were 208 Republicans and 140 Democrats. 42 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 28 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation funding federal government programs and agencies for one week while a long-term government-funding agreement was written in legislative language. Since the Senate had already passed this bill, House passage cleared the measure for President Obama to sign into law.