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The GOP effort to avoid another contentious battle over government funding comes on the heels of a failed bid by both parties to prevent massive cuts to discretionary programs known as sequestration.
The $984 billion funding bill, introduced by House Appropriates Committee chair Hal Rogers (R., Ky.), would continue funding for most government agencies at the same level as last year. It passed with bipartisan support, 267 to 151 and now heads to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.
The government will run out of funds on March 27 if Congress and the president cannot agree on a stop-gap bill.
The House bill would allow the Defense Department greater flexibility in how it spends $518 billion in non-war funding so that the sequester does not have a crippling effect on U.S. defenses.
Congressional leaders praised the bill as an effective way to keep the government running.
“The legislation will avoid a government shutdown on March 27th, prioritize DoD and Veterans programs, and allow the Pentagon some leeway to do its best with the funding it has,” Rogers said in a statement. “It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices, and it’s up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future, but right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation.”
The bill makes an effort to provide critical dollars to programs that care for veterans and their families.
House Armed Services Committee chair Howard “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) praised the bill for its focus on national security, funding for which was cut by nearly $500 billion under the sequester.
“I am glad to see us voting to include a full-year defense and military construction/veterans affairs appropriations bill,” McKeon said on the House floor prior to the vote. “Enacting a full year military spending bill is the first step toward restoring funding for our military, which has been whipsawed by the dual combination of the sequester and” the Senate’s failure to pass a budget.
“None of our current service chiefs of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have operated under a real budget,” McKeon explained. “Coming together to pass to a full year appropriation is an important step that, if we take it together, will begin to restore the bipartisan consensus behind our men and women in uniform.”
The bill would give military leaders the funding and authorization needed to restore and continue services they deem critical to the nation’s defense, McKeon noted.
Senior research analyst Nichole Wilson contributed to this report.