GWEN IFILL: The House of Representatives today approved legislation to keep the government up and running, this time three weeks in advance of a new deadline. But the bill still faces hurdles in the Democratically-controlled Senate.
MAN: On this vote, the yeas are 267, the nays are 151. The bill is passed without objection. A motion to reconsider is laid on the table.
GWEN IFILL: Anxious to avoid yet another Washington budget showdown, the House today agreed to a spending bill to finance the government through September, and avert a potentially devastating government shutdown.
The GOP measure would leave in place $85 billion dollars in across-the-board spending cuts that took effect last week. But it would give the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs greater flexibility to manage the reductions.
Kentucky Republican Hal Rogers chairs the Appropriations Committee.
REP. HAL ROGERS, R-Ky.: This bill takes the risk of a government shutdown off the table, funding the government for the remainder of the fiscal year, while helping maintain our national security and providing our troops and veterans with consistent, adequate funding.
GWEN IFILL: House Democrats said the cuts should be stripped from the bill.
Virginia lawmaker Gerry Connolly:
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, D-Va.: We have to get our arms around spending, but not in a mindless, meat axe way. It is going to hurt America. And to bake it into this continuing resolution, in my view, is a terrible mistake.
GWEN IFILL: The bill now goes to the Senate, where Majority Leader Harry Reid said Democrats hope to build in even more exceptions to the automatically mandated cuts.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, once that happens, the commitment of Republicans to averting a shutdown will be put to the test.
REP. NANCY PELOSI, D-Calif.: The Senate’s not going to accept this bill. And when they don’t, they will send back another bill, and we will just see how many votes there are on the Republican side to keep government open, because we have absolutely no intention of having the government shut down.
GWEN IFILL: Oklahoma Republican Tom Cole conceded that today’s action is just the first step toward resolving the recurring budget and spending debate.
REP. TOM COLE, R-Okla.: And we can have, I think, a good negotiation going back and forth between the two parties. This is the beginning of a process. It’s the beginning of a return to regular order. And it’s an opportunity to work, I think, in a bipartisan fashion.
GWEN IFILL: With an eye on the inclement weather outside, House Republicans also moved up today’s vote by 24 hours. Also, if the weather holds, President Obama was scheduled to dine tonight with a group of Republican senators, in part in response to complaints that he has failed to reach across the aisle. And Mr. Obama announced plans to visit Capitol Hill next week for meetings with House and Senate Republicans.