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House approves stopgap spending measure, but opposition grows

WASHINGTON — The House approved another continuing resolution to keep the government funded, this time for three weeks, but opposition on the right flank to the spending plan grew to the point that Democratic votes were actually needed to pass it.

The final vote was 271-158, with Republicans split 186-54 in favor and Democrats 85-104 against. Minnesota’s vote came down exactly as it had on the prior two-week CR. Republicans Chip Cravaack, John Kline, Erik Paulsen and Democrats Collin Peterson and Tim Walz all voted in favor. And as last time, Republican Michele Bachmann joined Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum in opposing it.

Bachmann, one of just six Republican no votes last time, had a much larger contingent of her own party with her this time. She and Rep. Steve King of Iowa had circulated a letter ahead of the vote urging her colleagues to vote no, unless measures to strip implementation funding for the health reform law and from Planned Parenthood were included. They were not.

“I am convinced that a vote for the CR is a vote to not fight against ObamaCare,” she said ahead of the vote. “The time has come to take a stand.”

However, even among those who supported the CR, support waned for continuing stopgap measures ad infinitum.

“Today, my colleagues and I took another step forward in curing Washington’s spending problem and removing the barriers to job creation,” Paulsen said in a statement. “However, we cannot continue to limp along two to three weeks at a time; we need leaders of both parties to put an end to short-term thinking and work to pass long-term budget solutions.”

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said in a statement that the president backs the three-week CR, but “with the wide range of issues facing our nation, we cannot keep funding the government in two or three week increments. It is time for us to come together, find common ground and resolve this issue in a sensible way.” 

“There is no disagreement on whether to cut spending to put us on a path to live within our means, but we can’t sacrifice critical investments that will help us out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build our global competitors to win the future,” Carney added. “We have already met Republicans halfway, and we are optimistic that Congress can get this done.”

This new spending measure, if (as expected) it’s approved by the Senate later this week and signed by the president, would expire on April 8. It’s unclear if the votes will be there to pass another short-term continuing resolution next time, though so far no one has found a long-term plan that would clear the House, Senate and White House either.

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