UPDATE: House Passes New CR, But Senate Kills It

UPDATE: House Passes New CR, But Senate Kills It

UPDATE: The Senate has tabled (killed) the House-passed resolution. Next steps are unclear.

ORIGINAL STORY: The House passed a new version of a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating after October 1 late on Thursday, but it added another “offset” to the bill, which is likely to antagonize Senate Democrats.

The first version failed in the House when almost all Democrats and 48 Republicans voted against it. The Republican defections were viewed as an affront to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). Democrats opposed it because it provides about half the emergency funds ($3.5 billion) for disaster relief than the Senate already has approved ($6.9 billion), and because Republicans included a spending cut ($1.5 billion) to offset some of those costs. Traditionally, disaster relief funds are emergency spending that do not require immediate offsets.

Some House Republicans voted against it because the emergency funds were not completely offset — they wanted deeper spending cuts.

The House Republican leadership decided to try and get more Republican votes — they have the majority in the House — rather than trying to compromise with the Democrats. Hence, the new bill includes an additional offset of $100 million taken from a loan guarantee program to pay for a solar energy project that has gone bankrupt and become controversial (Solyndra). It worked. Enough Republicans changed their votes from nay to aye that it passed 219-203 on largely party lines according to Politico.

Democrats in the Senate had been able to win sufficient Republican support for their version of an emergency spending bill with no offset because of the large number of states with Republican Senators who have suffered from the year’s repeated natural disasters. Time will tell if they continue to support the higher level of emergency spending with no offset in light of the action by their House counterparts.

The House and Senate had planned to wrap up business today and head home for a week-long recess as some members observe Rosh Hashanah. Whether they will remain in session this weekend or return next week to work out their differences remains to be seen, but FY2012 begins a week from Saturday (October 1). None of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government has been enacted, so the government will close down if a CR does not clear Congress by then.

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