"If you anticipate being in a better bargaining position in January," said Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., "why go to the bargaining table in December?"
The measure would replenish disaster aid coffers, finance the food stamp program after it lapses on Sept. 30 and reauthorize for six months federal grants to states to run their welfare programs.
Just a handful of high-priority programs would be awarded larger increases, including an initiative to protect government computers from cyberattacks, wildfire suppression efforts, a drive to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and processing of veteran disability claims. A popular initiative to repair the dome of the Capitol was left unfunded, however, despite a high-profile push by Senate Democrats.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., had preferred to do a shorter-term temporary spending bill in hopes of completing the appropriations bills in December as part of a catchall omnibus measure. Instead, the six-month measure means giving up months of work by the Appropriations committees.
"I think it's too bad because that's an awful lot of work that kind of went down the drain," Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, said.
Also Thursday the House approved a curiously-drafted bill that aims to turn off the $100 billion-plus in automatic spending cuts due to take effect Jan. 2.
But the measure, ambitiously titled "National Security and Job Protection Act," would only turn off the automatic cuts if Congress were to enact a separate package of big spending cuts. If Congress were to pass such a bill, of course, lawmakers would use that legislation to block the across-the-board cuts.
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