Mark Trahant: Lawmakers act to avoid government shutdown

The Senate yesterday passed a Continuing Resolution funding the government for the rest of the fiscal year. That measure now goes to the House and that vote will likely be today (more on the reason for that shortly). The measure passed the Senate easily, 73 voting yes to 26 against.

The bill means there won’t be a shutdown of the government March 27. That is, if the House goes along.

As The Washington Post’s Suzy Khimm put it: “So, what good is the Senate’s CR if it only makes marginal tweaks to sequestration? Basically, it decouples the bigger budget from a potential government shutdown, acknowledging that there’s really no chance that Congress will come up with a deal to replace sequestration and find a resolution on bigger fiscal issues before March 27. Like every other budget bill that Congress has passed since the August 2011 debt-ceiling bill, it puts off the hardest decisions for another day.”

This is a 600-page bill that’s makes the best of a bad situation. It does not fix the sequester. It does not fix the cut to Bureau of Indian Education Construction funding. But it does add some money to construction for Indian health facilities (in fact $53 million more than fiscal year 2012).

But at the House appropriations subcommittee meeting Tuesday, Rep. Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, sighed, and said that money was “robbing Peter to pay Paul” because of the cuts to school construction in the Senate measure.

“Working across the aisle and across the dome, the Senate has come together to prevent a government shutdown,” said Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland. “I am so proud the Senate bill protects national security while meeting compelling human needs. It makes investments in human infrastructure like early childhood education. And it creates jobs today and jobs tomorrow by supporting research and innovation. I thank my Vice Chairman, Senator Shelby, for his support and hard work. I look forward to swift action in the House so we can focus on passing a budget, ending sequestration, and getting back to regular order.”

So back to the House. “Swift” action is the key phrase. Because swift action is the only way this bill passes. House managers want to move the bill without amendment today before conservatives can gather enough strength to defeat it (and then, shut down the government). This bill does nothing to defund Obamacare, something conservatives hoped to include in any government spending bill.

Stay tuned. That vote will be today. Quick like, no amendments allowed, so the country can move on to the next crisis.

Mark Trahant is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He lives in Fort Hall, Idaho, and is a member of The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Join the discussion about austerity. A new Facebook page has been set up at:

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