House rejects government funding bill as shutdown looms

by
September 22, 2011
By Lisa Mascaro, Chicago TribuneReporting from Washington—The threat of a government shutdown intensified as the House surprised its Republican leadership and rejected a bill to fund the government that required cuts in programs to pay for aid for victims of Hurricane Irene and other disasters.
The legislation was narrowly defeated Wednesday after a tense afternoon of vote counting. Conservatives voted against the bill because they thought its spending level was too high, and Democrats rejected it because of the requirement for cuts.

The spending bill is needed to keep the government running through Nov. 18; current spending authority stops at the end of September.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) had hoped to avoid another budget battle in the wake of the summer’s debt ceiling fight and a near-shutdown of the government in April that caused voters to sour on Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

The rebuke gives new currency to Senate Democrats’ efforts to fund disaster aid without cuts elsewhere. Congress has just days to resolve the impasse as lawmakers are expected to recess Friday for the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana next week.

“They’re threatening to shut down the government to get what they want,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the majority leader, said of the GOP-led House.

House Republican leaders huddled late Wednesday to consider their options. It is unlikely they will be able to persuade their right flank to support a bill with spending levels higher than they want. Instead, Boehner will probably be forced to rely on Democrats for votes.

 

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