WASHINGTON – A shutdown of the federal government is possible after a short-term funding bill in the U.S. House failed Wednesday afternoon.
By a 195 to 230 vote, the House voted down a measure that would have kept the government’s lights on until mid-November. Minnesota’s lawmakers voted along party lines with the three Republicans present voting for the bill (Michele Bachmann is away on her presidential campaign and did not vote) and the four DFL House members voting against the measure.
There was no immediate reaction from any of the Minnesota House members’ offices about the vote.
Two disputes led to the bill’s failure.
The first was within the House Republican caucus. Forty eight members of the majority, mostly staunch fiscal conservatives and tea party supporters, voted against the funding bill because they thought the bill’s overall spending level was too high. That level, $1.043 trillion at an annualized rate, was the level agreed to by both parties and chambers last month during the deal to raise the debt ceiling.
The second dispute led to the loss of most of the Democratic votes. Just six members of the minority crossed the aisle to support the stopgap funding measure. House and Senate Democrats wanted additional disaster relief funds to replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s depleted coffers. House Republicans offered less than Democrats wanted and took some of those funds from an alternative energy program favored by Democrats.
DFL Rep. Keith Ellison explained his vote against the measure in a statement released jointly with Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), who co-chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus with Ellison.
“Americans won’t stand for Republican politicians that refuse to lift a finger to help flood victims unless they can put thousands of Americans out of work in return,” the pair said. “At no point in our history has one party attempted to hold disaster funds hostage, and it is simply unconscionable.”
Funding for most of the federal government expires at midnight Sept. 30th, the end of its fiscal year. But with Congress on recess all next week, a temporary bill to keep the government open while appropriators from both chambers complete their work must be completed before the end of the week unless Congress stays in session into the weekend.