Beating a midnight deadline, the US Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown with the Senate agreeing to a two-day extension of current funding levels to consider a $1.1 trillion spending bill passed by the House.
The Senate action came within 20 minutes of the House approving the spending bill that keeps the government open through September by 219-206 votes at 9:38 pm despite objections from conservatives and liberals. The bipartisan approval of the compromise measure in the Republican controlled House came amid intense fighting and a rare split between President Barack Obama and Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi.
Obama had earlier signalled that he would sign the 1,600-page bill despite House Democrats’ objections to a partial rollback of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, which regulates Wall Street, and changes to campaign finance reform.
The president opposes both the provisions, White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters earlier Thursday, “but we can’t allow a disagreement over one thing to be a deal-breaker over all the others.”
“It is a compromise,” he said that Democrats and Republicans can support “not because either side got every single thing that they wanted; the President certainly didn’t get everything that he wanted.”
Conservative Republicans also opposed the bill because they were angry that it didn’t combat Obama’s executive action on immigration.
The bill would keep most of the government running through the end of September, but only funds the Department of Homeland Security through February.
Republicans, who will take control of the Senate also in January, have threatened to impose new restrictions on the agency responsible for carrying out Obama’s executive orders on immigration.
The vote followed personal pleas from White House officials-including Obama and Vice President Joe Biden-pressing congressional Democrats to advance the spending bill.
White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough also urged Democratic lawmakers during a late-Thursday caucus meeting to vote for the bill because they would lose much of their leverage on future spending bills, lawmakers were quoted as saying at the meeting by CNN.
The vote capped a day of drama in the House. The chamber recessed for nearly seven hours as leaders scrambled to find votes to move the bill across the finish line.