House Passes Continuing Resolution to Fund the Government

After a long and grueling debate, the House passed H.R. 1, by a vote of 235 to189 primarily along party lines.  The Bill is intended to fund government departments, agencies and programs through Sept. 30, 2011.  Three Republicans voted against the final bill, Reps. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.) and John Campbell (R-Calif.) and no Democrats voted for it.  The marathon session ended on Saturday morning at 4:40 a.m., February 19, 2011. 

The CR cuts at least $61 billion from current spending levels which includes a $224 million cut to Amtrak.  Railroad Retirement Board, Department of Transportation and others also had their budgets reduced from FY2010 funding levels.  During the week long debates there were over 700 amendments offered, many of which were anti-union.  Several were directed at completely cutting all Amtrak funding and further reducing funding to commuter rail and rail safety programs.  These extreme and controversial Amendments were all defeated.

Also, Conservatives lost on a super cut amendment aimed at cutting an additional $22 billion across the board, that was offered by the Republican Study Committee.  The vote failed, 284-147.  Republican ranks broke down on Friday as rightwing Conservatives fought to cut tens of billions more from the CR only to be turned back by more moderate Republicans working with Democrats.

Now that the House has passed their CR, H.R. 1, the bill goes to the Senate.  The House and Senate are both in recess this week, giving leaders one week to negotiate a resolution to the budget impasse.  Due to the limited amount of time remaining the Senate will have to have discussions about a shorter-term stopgap measure in order to avert a government shutdown on March 4th.  House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said that he “won’t accept even a short-term bill that doesn’t cut from current levels.”  While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has taken the position that a stopgap measure should fund the government without any reduction.  Once the House and Senate reach an agreement the Bill then goes to the President.  

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