Congress has averted a midnight shutdown, as the House on Wednesday afternoon followed the Senate's example by easily passing a temporary spending bill funding the government through Dec. 11.
The stopgap measure passed the Senate 78 to 20 and then cleared the House on a 277-151 vote, despite the opposition of dozens of conservatives with objections to any package that continues to fund Planned Parenthood. Videos released by an antiabortion group charge that the organization is illegally selling fetal tissue for a profit; Planned Parenthood vigorously denies the allegations.
Neither Democrats nor Republicans were thrilled about the shutdown showdown, and both sides pointed fingers at the other for bringing the country to the brink. But there is some hope that the two sides can come to an agreement in the next few months for a longer budget deal clearing the decks for the next president.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that he spoke with President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner last week about “getting started” with negotiations for a two-year budget so the Republican-led Congress can have a regular appropriations process next year. Senate Democrats have blocked appropriations bills this year over complaints that the spending levels laid out in 2011 are too low, especially for domestic programs. “We are inevitably going to end up in a negotiation that will crack the Budget Control Act once again,” McConnell said a few weeks ago.