House Approves Funding Bill
The House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday that would avert another partisan budget fight as well as another government shutdown. The move came as President Barack Obama talked with several Republicans about the issue.
The House passed the bill by a vote of 267 to 151. The measure would fund government programs up until the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to introduce a similar measure next week.
Without the measure, federal agencies would run out of funding on March 27. The House bill came as President Obama invited some Republican senators to dinner at a Washington hotel Wednesday night. Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell also said that the president would join Republican senators for lunch on March 14.
It looks like the president and Congress are ready to work together to resolve the fiscal problem. The meetings suggest that President Obama and the Republicans know that public patience is starting to grow thin as they read about the inconveniences caused by the automatic spending cuts that took effect Friday after lawmakers and the administration failed to reach an agreement on an alternative to the sequester.
President Obama and the Republicans can’t agree on how to tame the $16.7 trillion federal debt. The president wants to reduce the fiscal gap with tax increases and spending cuts. Republicans don’t want to give another round of tax increases after conceding the tax increases in negotiations over the fiscal cliff during the New Year.
Observers expect the differences would not be resolved any time soon even if the president and the Republicans hold meetings and dinners. Some Republicans are skeptical regarding President Obama’s intentions.
John Cornyn of Texas is the second-ranking Republican in Senate. He was not invited to dinner with President Obama. He warned that talk of any tax increases should be unwelcomed. He said that he doesn’t know the purpose of the meetings or whether the president has an agenda.