Congress passes spending bill to keep government funded until December

by PABLO ROA

After months of political bickering and threats of a shutdown from both sides of the aisle, Congress passed a short-term spending bill Wednesday night to keep the government running through the rest of 2015.

The stop-gap bill—which passed just hours before the midnight deadline that would’ve sent thousands of government employees home—postpones a government shutdown until at least December 11.

“I think the short-term plan is good because they’re able to keep government employees at their places of work,” sophomore engineering major John Fraser said.

The bill passed with strong support from both parties—clearing the Senate with a 78-20 vote earlier in the day, before making it through the House on a 277-151 vote. President Obama then signed the legislation, officially postponing the shutdown many feared.

While the deadline to pass a new budget wasn’t until Wednesday night, there had been talks of a government shutdown throughout the summer and in recent weeks. One of the biggest obstacles that lawmakers faced in the negotiation process was the ongoing controversy regarding Planned Parenthood.

In light of the scandal, Republicans in Congress wanted to strip government funding for Planned Parenthood, and many feared that they would not pass a budget unless it did not include funding for the group. Of course, that would’ve led to a shutdown. The White House also announced that President Barack Obama would veto any budget that cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which also would’ve led to a shutdown.

The stop-gap measure passed Wednesday did not include any provisions to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which is one of the reasons the bill passed. But the Planned Parenthood debate will undoubtedly continue throughout the year and could ultimately lead to a shutdown if Democrats and Republicans can’t agree on a new budget by Dec. 11.

“Why not just deal with it now?” wondered freshman community health major Chinwe Nwokorie. “I mean, it’s not going to go away, and then in December they’ll just run into the same issues.”

Nwokorie isn’t the only one who thinks Congress should take care of the issue now to avoid a government shutdown in the future.

While keeping the government running past the Sept. 30 deadline wasn’t easy, it could be far more challenging to pass a long-term spending bill in December. Not only will Congress be dealing with the Planned Parenthood controversy and a number of other issues, but there will also be new leadership in the House following Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) resignation.

“I really don’t think it’s OK for them to keep going into this ‘shut down mode,'” Fraser said. “They really need to come to a long-term solution.

In the near future, President Obama will meet with meet Republican leaders to discuss the possibility of a new budget that would keep the government funded for two years. If such a deal were to pass, it would not only postpone a government shutdown for two years, but it would also ensure that it doesn’t play a role in the 2016 elections.

“I think they’re finally understanding that a government shutdown shouldn’t even be a political measure,” freshman finance and economics major Gabe Castro said. “I think that’s a step in the right direction.”

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