The House on Wednesday passed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill — a compromise that appeared to get past the bitter partisan showdowns that have caused an unpopular federal government shutdown and nearly tipped the U.S. into default.
The 359-67 vote was a sign of considerable support from Republicans, thanks to a bipartisan deal worked out last month laying out spending for the next two years.
The 1,582-page bill eases most of the automatic spending cuts that were part of the so-called sequester and keeps the federal government funded through Sept. 30. It moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate for a final vote later this week.
"Unlike last fall, this time it's been a near certainty that Congress would not let the government shut down over disagreements on funding levels. Kentucky's Hal Rogers, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, says his fellow Republicans have learned a lesson.
" 'The shutdown educated ... particularly our younger members ... about how futile that kind of practice is,' Rogers said."
Before the vote, Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole said approving the legislation "is showing the American people we actually are capable of working in a bipartisan manner," according to The Associated Press. He praised the bill for holding down spending and said passage would be "the responsible thing to do. It's the thoughtful thing to do."
As NPR's Ailsa Chang reported Tuesday, "One notable difference between this bill and the December deal involves cuts to military pensions. The budget agreement announced last month reduced the annual cost-of-living increases for military retirees under 62 by 1 percent. This spending plan reverses that cut, but only for disabled veterans and relatives of deceased members of the military."
The AP says:
"By its sheer size and detail, the measure had plenty for liberals and conservatives to dislike. Some Democrats said they would support it but only reluctantly, complaining that despite some increases, spending for education, health and other programs would still be too low.
" 'With this bill, we are [waist] deep in manure instead of neck deep in manure. Hooray, I guess,' said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass."
The vote comes after a further delay on a vote to pass extending unemployment benefits.