Thanks to a big boost from Democrats, the House has approved a temporary spending bill that would keep federal agencies operating and avert a threatened government shutdown, due in three days.
The stopgap measure, which the House passed on Nov. 23, temporarily continues agencies’ spending at their current levels. In an odd provision, the new legislation has two endpoints.
Two New Deadlines Loom for Funding
For some federal departments or agencies, the measure's funding lapses on Jan. 19; for other agencies, funding expires on Feb. 2.
Under the new extension, most major construction programs have the Jan. 19 funding endpoint.
The vote on the House GOP-written measure on Nov. 23 was 336-95, with 209 Democrats joining with 127 Republicans.
That large margin comfortably exceeded the two-thirds majority necessary to pass, because it was considered under suspension of the House rules, a fast-track mechanism.
Outlook in Senate Seems Bright
The measure, a continuing resolution, or CR, next goes to the Senate, where the outlook for passage seemed positive.The chamber must approve a funding extension by midnight Nov. 17 to ward off a shutdown.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) noted in a press conference earlier in the day that the House legislation was bipartisan—a key criterion in Schumer's view. He also was pleased that the measure "omits the kind of hard-right [spending] cuts that would have been non-starters for Democrats."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he also supports the House CR.
The House-passed measure omits any funding for Ukraine to continue its war with Russia. It also has no funds for Israel in its war against Hamas.
The stopgap's prime author, new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), described the dual-deadline construction as an "innovation." Schumer called it "goofy."
New House Speaker: No More Omnibuses
Johnson said he wants to avoid the past practice of voting on huge, government-wide omnibus appropriations packages at or near the yearend holiday season.
"It's going to change the way we've done this," Johnson told reporters before the vote. "We have broken the fever. We are not going to have a massive omnibus spending bill right before Christmas."
For construction companies, engineering firms and other infrastructure advocates, the key date, if the House measure stays intact in the Senate, is Jan.19.
Four of the 12 annual appropriations bills would expire on that date.
They include the measure funding the Depts. of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development; the energy and water programs bill–which covers the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works program and most of the. Dept. of Energy; military construction and Veterans Affairs; and Agriculture.