By James Harrison
House Republicans voted Wednesday to approve a measure to fund the government for the next six months, an opening move to keep the government from experiencing a possible shutdown on March 27.
The continuing resolution, or CR, maintains the spending level put in place after the $85 billion sequester and would shift additional billions of dollars to provide relief for defense programs that are threatened by the automatic, across-the-board budget reductions.
In all, the stop-gap bill approves $982 billion to fund federal government operations through September.
Approved in a 267-151 vote, the bill received broad support from GOP representatives. But 14 Republican lawmakers opposed the legislation, including two congressmen from Tennessee.
Both Rep. Scott DesJarlais and Rep. John Duncan Jr. voted against the bill. Following the vote, DesJarlais said he could not support the legislation because it didn't do enough to cut spending.
"I was disappointed that today's legislation did not contain a satisfactory level of spending cuts," DesJarlais said in a brief emailed statement. "Further, this bill maintains the current funding levels for the implementation of Obamacare."
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who voted in favor of the resolution, issued a statement Wednesday saying that although he did not think the current method of funding the government was adequate, he supported the fact that it did not increase spending levels.
"Continuing resolutions are not the way we should be governing but unfortunately have become the norm," Fleischmann said in a news release. "Passage of this CR will keep sequestration spending levels in place while ensuring the safety of our military men and women serving at home and around the world."
According to a Wall Street Journal report, leaders in the Senate have said they expect to tweak portions of the bill and send it back to the House for final congressional consideration as early as next week.
Sen. Bob Corker issued a statement Wednesday saying he was "disappointed" in a provision of the CR that would enable the U.S. Postal Service to continue delivering mail six days a week. Corker suggested the provision would get in the way of the recent announcement that USPS would be phasing out its regular mail delivery on Saturdays, a necessary adjustment to ensure future stability.
"This is the worst of Washington--here, Congress is unable to pass reforms that would enable the Postal Service to operate and not be a burden to taxpayers, and yet Congress also continues to interfere and not allow the Postal Service to make decisions it believes are necessary to operate viably in the future," Corker said. "If this action is carried through, Congress will be hamstringing the Postal Service, hastening its demise and probably adding additional financial burdens to U.S. taxpayers."