Congress averts shutdown


A government shutdown was avoided after both the Senate and House passed a continuing resolution bill.

By Rebecca Morin
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It looks like the lights will stay on at the U.S. Capitol.

Congress passed a bill on Wednesday that would fund the government until Dec. 11, leaving 10 weeks for a budget deal to be created. The resolution was approved just hours before a possible government shutdown.

The last government shutdown was in 2013, which lasted from Oct. 1 through Oct. 16.

A concrete budget was not created — with the debate largely centered on defunding Planned Parenthood. Speaker of the House John Boehner will resign from Congress at the end of October, saying he would not risk a government shutdown over the women’s health organization.

In July, highly edited videos were released by an anti-abortion activist group that claimed Planned Parenthood officials were trying to sell fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards testified about the videos to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Tuesday.

Both of Iowa’s senators voted for the continuing resolution. The bill passed in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon by a 78-20 vote.

“Like many Iowans, I’m tired of Washington’s dangerous and shortsighted habit of governing from one emergency to the next,” Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, said. “The American people deserve better, which is why Congress passed a budget that balances, for the first time in over a decade. Congress must work together in an open and collaborative dialogue to find the best path forward in order to ensure the government runs efficiently and effectively.”

Ernst said she previously supported a resolution that would suspend Planned Parenthood funding for one year as Congress investigates whether the organization has been profiting from selling fetal body parts. However, the measure did not pass.

“A government shutdown doesn’t save the taxpayers money and isn’t fiscally responsible,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said in a statement. “It ends up costing more money to close down government functions, especially since federal employees who are furloughed end up being paid anyway.”

Though both of Iowa’s senators voted for the bill, not all of the state’s representatives felt the same way.

Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, voted against the bill, along with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Both Rep. David Young, R-Iowa, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, voted for the resolution. The bill passed in the House with a 277-151 vote.

“Today I voted no on the continuing resolution because I believe that short-term, last-minute funding measures that kick the can down the road are not the proper way to run our country,” Blum said in a statement. “When regular order is abandoned in favor of backroom deals, the American people are not truly represented.”

Some of Iowa’s congressional leaders were not the only ones to oppose the bill, however.

Presidential candidates and Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted against the bill.

“Today was a win for the Washington cartel, and another setback for the American people,” said Cruz, who is using combat with Washington GOP leaders to help define his presidential campaign. “Republican leadership chose to abandon its constitutional power of the purse and to fund 100 percent of President Obama’s failed agenda.”

Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., did not cast a vote for the bill. Both Rubio and Graham are also part of the 15 major candidates vying for the Republican nomination for president.

Rubio’s campaign sent out an email sent out Wednesday — the last day to file for the next Federal Election Commission — that said, “Our campaign’s most important fundraising deadline is tonight, and all eyes are on my campaign.”

The campaign was asking for donations before Wednesday’s filing deadline ended.

The bill passed Wednesday is only temporary though.

Tim Hagle, an associate professor of political science at the University of Iowa, said the final budget will probably not cut spending for Planned Parenthood because it “seems to be the line in the sand for Democrats.”

“They just don’t want that to happen, so they’ll have to figure out some sort of compromise on that issue,” Hagle said.

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