2013 Government Funding Bill Faced Steep Climb in Senate, Appears Likely to Pass This Week

Last week we reported on the $982 billion spending package approved by the House of Representatives that would fund government operations through the conclusion of fiscal year 2013. Since that bill has been sent to the Senate, the path forward became much murkier before a path forward was cleared Monday night.

While the House passed a relatively clean bill, the Senate bill threatened to be knocked off course by an avalanche of amendments – nearly 100 were offered. If the Senate is unable to pass a spending package, smooth over the differences with the House, and have the bill signed by the President by March 27, the government must shut down.

“There have been numerous discussions about how to get the amendments into shape so they can be voted on,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said Thursday. “We can’t even get senators to agree that we should have votes on amendments, unless, ‘I want mine. If he gets his, I want mine.’ So we have had difficulty on both sides to agree on a path forward.”

Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) and John McCain (R-AZ) threatened to hold the bill up early last week so they could have more time to study the 587-page bill. “I am willing to do whatever is necessary to make sure we get a continuing resolution, but I am not willing to do that blindly,” Coburn said last Tuesday on the Senate floor.

Over the course of the weekend appropriations committee senators worked to reach an agreement as to how amendments would be addressed.

Monday afternoon Sen. Reid invoked cloture to push the bill forward with a limited number of amendments. That maneuver preceded a 63-35 procedural vote Monday evening that cleared the spending bill for a vote today or this week.

Ten Republicans, mostly from the appropriations committee, joined with Democrats to clear the 60-vote hurdle to move the bill closer to final passage.

 

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