A measure funding the U.S. government for about a month passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, a stopgap measure to avert another shutdown of federal agencies.
Senate approval and a presidential signature will solve a problem, at least in the short run. But some lawmakers find the foot-dragging a drag on the government, already 51 days into the federal fiscal year.
“Defense is critical,” Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt said Tuesday, “but there are lots of other things in this appropriations process that are waiting to see if we’re going to fund the government, at what level we’re going to fund the government and whether we’re going to move toward the future or just wait for the future to come to us.”
Blunt, a Republican, sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee and chairs the subcommittee that distributes funds to the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies.
He also has shared concerns of late, as a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, about the failure of Congress to pass the National Defense Authorization Act and the funding component of defense programs.
“For 59 straight years, (NDAA is) the only authorization act we pass every year, and I think we could have a real good debate as to why that’s the most important of what we do, it’s the most important thing the federal government does,” he said on the Senate floor last week.
He added, “We’ve done that, but we can’t seem to get it done this year.”
The Defense Department spending bill funds projects across the country, including those in Blunt’s home state.
“It supports the readiness center in Springfield, Missouri, it supports the vehicle maintenance facility at Whiteman Air Force Base, the C-130 flight simulator in Rosecrans (in St. Joseph),” he said in the floor speech.
“All those things we decided as a Senate need to happen. And now we need to decide as a Senate and a Congress how to make them happen.”
The House passage of the continuing resolution on Tuesday had a vote of 231 to 192, with a dozen Republicans siding with 219 Democrats in support of the measure. It would fund the government through Dec. 20.
North Missouri Congressman Sam Graves and Congressman Steve Watkins, whose district includes the northeastern part of Kansas, voted against the stopgap bill.
The National Defense Authorization Act now resides in a conference committee, where disputes in House and Senate versions will be resolved. House Republican leaders picked Watkins as one of the conferees.
Democrats and Republicans have pointed fingers about which side has caused breakdowns in the appropriations process.
“The American people know who to blame for the inaction — Leader McConnell and President Trump,” Senate Minority Leader, New York Democrat Charles Schumer said Tuesday.