Congress averts another government shutdown


Charlie Coffey/Iowa State Daily

Iowa Rep. Steve King gives a speech during the 2015 Ag Summit in Des Moines on March 7, 2015.

Alex Hanson

Hours before the federal government’s legal authority to spend money was set to lapse, Congress passed a short-term spending bill Wednesday to avert a government shutdown.

It had been unclear for the past several weeks on if Congress would be able to pass through a spending bill amid hardline conservative opposition to funding to Planned Parenthood.

Funding for the federal government was set to run out at midnight on Thursday, but the U.S. Senate passed funding until mid-December on a vote of 78-20. The House passed an identical version 277-151.

“Like many Iowans, I’m tired of Washington’s dangerous and shortsighted habit of governing from one emergency to the next,” said U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. “The American people deserve better which is why Congress passed a budget that balances, for the first time in over a decade. Congress must work together in an open and collaborative dialogue to find the best path forward in order to ensure the government runs efficiently and effectively.”

Ernst said Congress needed to pass the “clean” funding bill, even though she supported the plan to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Prior to this vote, I supported a CR that would have placed a moratorium on Planned Parenthood funding for one year as congressional investigations seek answers over whether the organization is profiting from the selling of baby body parts,” Ernst said. “It would have protected women’s health funding by redirecting those funds from Planned Parenthood to community health centers and other eligible entities.”

She said she remains committed to “exposing” the group’s “disregard” for human life, and will continue to seek answers about the videos that purport to show group profiting off harvesting fetal tissue and organs.

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who was also opposed to any funding of Planned Parenthood, introduced four amendments to the spending bill earlier in the day. The amendments would defund Planned Parenthood, the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama immigration initiatives and Obamacare.

King’s amendments were not added to the bill, and he voted against the final short-term spending bill.

“The American people are expecting leadership from the House of Representatives on the issues they care about the most,” King said.

Chuck Grassley, Iowa’s other U.S. senator, voted for the short-term spending bill, although he said in an interview with The Daily last week that he would have supported a measure to defund Planned Parenthood.

“Today I voted no on the continuing resolution because I believe that short term, last minute funding measures that kick the can down the road are not the proper way to run our country,” said U.S. Rep. Rod Blum, a Republican from Iowa’s first district. 

U.S. Reps. David Young, a Republican from the Iowa’s third district, and Dave Loebsack, a Democrat from the Iowa’s second district, both voted for the bill,.

2016 presidential candidates Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham missed the Senate vote because of campaign activities. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, who are also running for president, voted against the bill.

The shutdown being averted comes in the middle of a leadership change in Congress, as House Speaker John Boehner announced he would resign at the end of October.

Negotiations for a long-term spending bill are expected to begin soon.