Senate Sends Bill Averting Government Shutdown to House of Representatives

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, left, and Representative Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, after a House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, left, and Representative Steve Scalise, the Republican whip, after a House Republican Conference meeting on Tuesday. (Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly passed legislation to avert a government shutdown, sending the measure to the House of Representatives just hours before funding for federal agencies runs out at midnight.

Passed by a 78-20 vote, the bill would keep federal agencies funded at current levels through Dec. 11. It does not include a controversial provision to cut off money to Planned Parenthood that many conservative Republicans had demanded.

The funding bill aims to give congressional negotiators and President Barack Obama about 10 weeks to work out a longer-term budget deal that lasts at least through the new fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016.

But first, the House needs to approve the measure in time for Obama to sign it into law before a midnight deadline. Timing for that vote was still uncertain but House Republican aides said they were aiming for an afternoon vote.

The House Rules Committee was expected to consider whether any allow amendments to the funding bill at a meeting late Wednesday morning.

Conservative Republicans were making a last-ditch effort to amend the Senate funding measure to restore a controversial provision that would cut off all federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

Many hard-line conservatives want to punish Planned Parenthood because of allegations that the women’s healthcare organization improperly sold fetal tissue harvested from abortions.

Planned Parenthood has denied wrongdoing and the defunding provision was blocked by Senate Democrats, backed up by an Obama veto threat. It was stripped from the Senate measure passed on Wednesday morning.

The 172-member Republican Study Committee’s proposed amendment also would prohibit Obama from lifting anti-nuclear sanctions on Iran during the duration of the stopgap funding measure.

(This version of the story was refiled to fix typo in “amendment” in last paragraph)

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Susan Heavey)

SOURCE: Reuters