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Congress News: NPR Defunding Passes House, Afghan Withdrawal Gets 93 Votes, Second Stopgap Passes

A couple updates on various legislation in Congress. The House of Representatives passed their bill defunding NPR today by a 228-192 vote. One Republican, Justin Amash (R-MI), voted present, and seven Republicans voted no (Duffy, Gibson, Hanna, LaTourette, Reichert, Tiberi, Woodall). Not one Democrat voted for the bill. The full roll call is here. The White House statement of Administration policy strongly opposed passage, but did not mention a veto. I can’t see the Senate taking this up, however.

On the resolution to remove troops from Afghanistan offered by Rep. Dennis Kucinich, he improved his vote on this by 50% over the past year, garnering 93 yes votes. Again, Justin Amash voted present, so he must think he’s hit on a real strategy with controversial votes. Only 8 Republicans supported the resolution, so the movement was on the Democratic side. 85 Democrats defied the President and voted for withdrawal, with 99 opposing it. Member of the Democratic leadership John Larson and Henry Waxman were among the bigger names in support.

In the Senate, the three-week stopgap funding measure passed by a vote of 87-13. Four Democrats and nine Republicans voted against the bill.

Crapo (R-ID), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Hatch (R-UT), Inhofe (R-OK), Lee (R-UT), Levin (D-MI), Murray (D-WA), Paul (R-KY), Risch (R-ID), Rockefeller (D-WV), Rubio (R-FL), Sanders (I-VT)

This bill has already passed the House, so it moves to the President for his signature. It cuts $6 billion more in federal funding, on a variety of programs already cut out of the President’s budget, along with some earmarks. It means that the government will continue to function until April 8. Here was the President’s statement:

Today, the Senate passed a short-term funding bill that avoids a government shutdown and gives Congress the time to find common ground on a measure to take us through the end of the fiscal year. Continuing to fund our government in two or three week increments adds uncertainty to our economy and distracts us from other urgent priorities facing our nation. Now is the time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and find a long-term solution that cuts spending without impeding our ability to win the future. We all agree we want to cut spending, which is why we have already met Republicans halfway. But we will continue to oppose harmful cuts to critical investments in education, innovation, and research and development that we need to grow our economy and create jobs – as well as oppose additions to the bill that have nothing to do with fiscal policy. The President is optimistic that Congress can get this done.

I, on the other hand, am not too optimistic about that. Nor am I optimistic about the ultimate outcome. Policy riders seem to be the main obstacle, not the level of cuts. And that means that, whatever the wags say, the Republicans will have scored a major victory on defunding, which could put the economy in peril.

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David Dayen

David Dayen