WASHINGTON -- With a deadline looming in less than 12 hours, the House laced up its can-kicking shoes Friday and passed a bill that will give congressional negotiators another five days to finalize a roughly one-trillion-dollar measure to fund the government until next October.
The short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution, had been passed by voice vote in the Senate on Thursday and was also approved by voice vote in the House. Congress thereby approved roughly $50 billion in spending without a single recorded vote.
The measure, which was less than a page, simply pushes the funding deadline back to Dec. 16, when lawmakers are expected to have a massive omnibus bill ready for approval.
The top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, indicated on Friday that Republicans and Democrats were still hung up on abortion provisions in the omnibus.
"The process has stalled," Lowey said on the House floor, "because Republicans insist on demonizing legal women's reproductive health decisions, even putting women's jobs at risk if their employers do not agree with their health choices."
Lowey also noted environmental issues, which have been a constant point of contention in the omnibus negotiations. Republicans have a number of environmental riders they want to add, but Democrats refuse to give in and point out that passage of the omnibus will only be possible with Democratic votes.
"At this point," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers said Friday, "it is unfortunately necessary for us to have a little more time to complete our negotiations."
The Kentucky Republican said lawmakers were making "good progress," but there were still "many moving pieces."
"It's my hope and expectation that the final omnibus legislation will be completed by this new deadline," Rogers said.