Congress Avoids Government Shutdown

Acting with surprisingly more diligence and cooperation than one might have anticipated given recent history, Congress has managed to once again avoid a government shutdown:

Congress approved and sent to the White House on Thursday a stopgap spending bill to avert any threat of a government shutdown next week and keep agencies funded through September in the wake of automatic cuts ordered under sequestration.

Final passage came on a 318-109 vote in the House, as top Republicans opted to embrace significant changes approved by the Senate on Wednesday rather than risk further delay.

The quick action is a major breakthrough for the bipartisan leadership of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, which found themselves kicked to the curb in the previous Congress as the entire budget process collapsed under the pressure of the 2012 elections.

The measure replaces the current continuing resolution with a much more updated alignment of appropriations for the last six months of the fiscal year. Overshadowed by the partisan fight now over taxes and entitlements, it redefines the landscape for sequestration and is the closest thing to a real budget that Congress will have produced for the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30.


The biggest dollar impact will be at the Pentagon, where billions are moved about to help the military services cope with depleted operations accounts. But on the nondefense side of the budget, the bill makes scores of changes as well, including new initiatives that run from investments in a polar icebreaker and cybersecurity to aid to Syrian rebels and improved embassy security overseas.

Powerful interests rode this same train, even as President Barack Obama paid a price for his diffidence toward the appropriations process.

The White House failed to get added money it wanted to implement health care and Wall Street reforms. At the same time, Monsanto, large meat packers and pro-gun forces — with strong Republican help — won special interest legislative provisions attached to the package, which fills close to 600 pages.

Most important for many liberal Democrats, the bill leaves in place the machinery of sequestration that took effect March 1. Indeed, the $1.043 trillion allocated across the government in the bill is closer to $984 billion once those cuts are factored into the equation.

Now, we just have to deal with another debt ceiling showdown sometime after May, and trying to put together a Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Deficit and Debt, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Mike says:

    I predict more drama and outlandish hype from both sides before the debt ceiling is raised yet again just enough to have the same issue in a few more months so that both sides can make even more outlandish statements.

    It is in Congress’s interest to do this b/c they get more air time on the news. Doesn’t matter what is good for the economy or the country.

  2. john personna says:

    Interesting framing, those special interests were Obama’s losses and GOP wins?

    Not a “people’s loss?”

  3. Marxist Hypocrisy 101 says:

    Not to those of us who aren’t as authoritarianism-minded enough to conflate the will of an unaccountable, out-of-control government with that of the “people”.