Update: Right before ending the session and heading off for a well-deserved holiday, the House passed an $81 billion disaster-relief package in a 251-169 vote. The bill was surprisingly controversial - in part due to the enormous sum being authorized.
According to Politico, the fate of the aid package is far from assured in the Senate, which means there's a possibility that Congress waits until early next year to finally pass the badly needed funding relief.
Democratic leaders in both chambers have strongly condemned the House GOP’s aid package, signaling that the bill could sit for weeks until Congress returns in January. Democratic leaders have identified a long list of problems with the bill, mostly related to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
“Because of these inadequacies in the bill, the disaster supplemental may slip to next year,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on the Senate floor.
But that's not the only obstacle: Senate GOP leaders would need to get unanimous consensus to fast-track the disaster package in order to squeeze in a vote some time before New Year's. If a lawmaker like Schumer objected, the chamber would need to go through the motions with 30 hours of debate. The far-reaching bill, with huge sums for FEMA, housing and public works programs, nearly doubles the White House’s own disaster request last month.
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Update: In a 231-188 vote, House Republicans found enough votes to pass the stopgap funding measure - for one more month - and avert a Christmas government shutdown.
- HOUSE HAS VOTES TO PASS STOPGAP GOVT FUNDING THROUGH JAN. 19
The bill also includes short-term patches for: CHIP; Flood insurance; FISA, Section 702 and VA Choice.
House PASSES short-term CR funding the govt until Jan 19, 231-188.— Frank Thorp V (@frankthorp) December 21, 2017
Bill also includes short-term patches for:
- Flood insurance
- FISA, Section 702
- VA Choice
Democrats withheld their votes to protest Republicans’ refusal to include an immigration measure and some domestic spending priorities, Reuters reported.
As the Senate prepares to vote on the joint resolution later today, the House will now turn its attention to a bill to authorize $81 billion in emergency disaster funding for Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico, California and other areas affected by the hurricanes and wildfires that made 2017 one of the costliest years in US history.
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A day after Republicans celebrated their biggest legislative accomplishment to date when the House passed the White House's tax-reform package in a nearly party-line vote, Republicans are scrambling to pass a continuing resolution that will avert a Christmas shutdown.
Readers can watch the vote below:
Per ABC, House Republicans unveiled a new, stripped-down spending bill early Thursday that would punt acting some of the most controversial legislative priorities until early next year, virtually guaranteeing unanimous opposition from Democrats, who are demanding that Congress enshrine protections for so-called "dreamers" - undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Earlier this year, President Trump eliminated protections put in place by his predecessor, but promised Democrats that Congress would act to preserve those protections in legislation.
The House may also vote on an $81 billion disaster aid package that was initially going to be included as part of the continuing resolution, but has since been separated into its own piece of legislation by the leadership.
Another bipartisan priority, resources to combat the opioid crisis, is also notably absent from the "clean" spending bill.
The bill would keep the government operating through Jan. 19 and permit lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats — to head home for the holidays. It would delay battles over the budget, health care and immigration into January, denying Democrats wins that they had hoped to score this year.
Failure to pass the measure would trigger a government shutdown at midnight Friday, which would amount to a political pratfall just after the GOP scored a major win on a landmark tax bill. With Republicans controlling Washington, they would not have anyone else to blame for a shutdown debacle.
Of course, this hasn't dissuaded Trump from preemptively blaming Demorats for the shutdown, which the president ostensibly believes would detract from the Republican victory on tax reform.
House Democrats want a SHUTDOWN for the holidays in order to distract from the very popular, just passed, Tax Cuts. House Republicans, don’t let this happen. Pass the C.R. TODAY and keep our Government OPEN!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 21, 2017
A final vote on the CR is expected around 4:30 ET. The measure will then proceed to the Senate, where Republicans must win the votes of at least 8 Democrats to prevent the federal government from shutting down at midnight on Friday. The Senate is expected to vote on the measure Thursday evening.