This was a vote on final passage of legislation funding federal government programs and agencies for one week and cutting $12 billion from a number of domestic programs, including home heating assistance for low income Americans as well as clean water programs. While the underlying bill continued federal funding for most programs and government agencies for one week, it funded the Defense Department for six months (through the end of the federal government’s fiscal year).
This vote took place the day before the federal government was set to run out money—and shut down entirely. 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: “I ask my colleagues…to support this bill so that we can avoid a government shutdown and provide the necessary time to finally complete negotiations on a final funding agreement for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year. This bill funds government operations for 1 week while reducing spending by $12 billion….this bill supports our troops and our national security by providing funding for our national defense for the remainder of this fiscal year. Our troops and their families deserve to have the financial security we promised them while we continue to work towards a final budget agreement….As I have said many times before… short-term measures like this are not the preferable way to fund the government. So while no one wants to fund the government in 1- or 2-week bursts, this…is what we must do to prevent a government shutdown and allow time to pass a smart and thoughtful bill for the rest of the year.”
Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) criticized the bill: “…My Republican friends bring to the floor today a transparent political ploy that's an insult to our men and women in uniform and their families. It says that the Republican majority is willing to put up the funding to arm and equip our troops fighting overseas for the remainder of the year, but they won't find a way to fund the rest of the Federal programs that assist their spouses, children, and parents who are making significant sacrifices keeping the home front together while their loved ones give all that they have to keep all of us safe and free….This is no peace of mind for a soldier fighting in the field to defend our freedoms and interests if his or her spouse or parents are being furloughed at home or their children are being denied essential services.”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) also criticized the bill: “Why is this… piece of legislation on the floor? Because you think you can hold the government ransom for an additional $12 billion [in spending cuts]….you're banking on the fact that you know we don't want to shut down government. What's the proof in the pudding? We did not shut it down when we had disagreements with [former President] George Bush because we believed that reasonable people elected by a diverse community in America who had differences of opinion were expected by our public to come together, reason together, and act productively together.... And you have no expectation that…[this bill] will…be signed by the president, but you do it to pretend you want to keep government in operations….Ladies and gentlemen on my side of the aisle, we ought to reject this specious political act which pretends that we want to keep the government open.
The House passed this bill by a vote of 247-181. Voting “yea” were 232 Republicans and 15 Democrats. 175 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 6 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation funding federal government programs and agencies for one week and cutting $12 billion from a number of domestic programs, including home heating assistance for low income Americans and clean water programs. The Senate, however, was not expected to act on the measure.