House Republicans just took an early but important step toward avoiding a government shutdown.
After rushing House business — seemingly to head off growing opposition — GOP leaders cleared legislation to fund the government past March 27.
The final vote was 267-151; 53 Democrats joined 214 Republicans to pass the bill. But with 418 members voting, House Speaker John Boehner needed only 210 votes to carry the legislation, and Democrats made him marshal a majority composed of Republicans, before freeing up members to pad his margin.
As outlined in this article, the measure, called a continuing resolution, now heads to the Senate, where Democrats will attempt to amend it. Their goal is to make sure it protects key domestic priorities from sequestration in the same way Republicans fashioned it to protect the military.
The question now is how much leeway Senate Republicans provide Democrats to change the legislation. Both Republicans and Democrats have indicated that the amendments will have to be fairly narrow, to prevent House Republicans from rejecting the bill if and when it returns to the lower chamber.
Boehner is pressing the Senate to pass it unchanged.
“Today the House has taken the first step towards assuring the American people that the federal government will stay open, which President Obama agrees should be our shared goal,” he said in an official statement. “The Senate should pass the House measure without delay.”
We’ll find out how that tussle ends next week. But for now, House Republicans have cleared one hurdle between them and avoiding a government shutdown.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.