The U.S. Senate passed a continuing resolution Saturday to fund the federal government through March of next year, a vital stopgap measure that will also increase the federal budget by 0.6 percent come January.
The resolution, the last piece of legislation passed before Congress takes a break to campaign before elections on November 6, passed after Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., dropped calls to cut U.S. aid to Pakistan, Libya and Egypt.
Paul's bill held up voting on the funding measure for almost a week after the House passed their version last Friday. Although Paul's measure was struck down, lawmakers did come to agreement over language condemning Iran's nuclear program.
The Iran bill, which passed 90-1, doesn't have the force of law. But it does represent rare bipartisan agreement on a pertinent issue of foreign affairs and defense policy. Paul voted against the measure because he said it was "a vote for preemptive war."
The funding bill passed with less Republican support by a vote of 62-30. Many in the GOP were disappointed after massive spending cuts introduced in the House version were dropped to meet the October 1 deadline and avoiding a government shutdown.
Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., voted against the funding bill, saying no spending bill should be passed until a budget is passed. This hasn't happened in three years - or 1,241 days as Corker pointed out.
"I don't believe we should be considering a continuing resolution or any spending bill until we have done the basic job of prioritizing how taxpayer dollars are spent and at what levels," Corker said in an email statement.
"If the Senate can't perform its most basic responsibilities, I worry about how we're going to make the tough decisions and do the hard work that will be necessary to get our country on a path to fiscal solvency," he added.
Other Republicans, and lone Democrat in opposition West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, voted against the continuing resolution because they wanted to fund the government past the six month mark.
"We're being asked to pass yet another measure to keep things going another six months so we can all go home for the election and worry later about this country's growing debt," Manchin said in a speech on the Senate floor late Friday night.
"Well, a 'baker's dozen' is just one too many for me. Enough is enough. I can't vote for this measure to simply kick the can further down the road another six months. This can't go on," he added.
The Congress also leaves a raft of un-passed legislation behind as it adjourns to campaign. President Barack Obama criticized lawmakers for this in his weekly presidential address Saturday, echoing some legislators calls to stay in Washington until all business is finished.
"When they skipped town, Members of Congress left a whole bunch of proposals sitting on the table - actions that would create jobs, boost our economy, and strengthen middle-class security," Obama said in his video message.
Specifically, Obama mentions four measures left untouched by Congress this year - one creating a veterans' job corps, one to aid farmers effected by this year's drought, one lowering rates for mortgage refinancing and one halting tax increases on small business.
"All of these ideas would strengthen our economy and help the middle class right now. All of them are supported by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. There's no reason to wait," Obama added.
The funding bill was passed after midnight Friday, after which the Senate adjourned. Legislators will return to Washington after the November elections.
by RTT Staff Writer
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