Congress tries to avert a government shutdown.
WASHINGTON — Congress took steps Monday to avert a government shutdown, as the Senate pushed ahead on a stopgap-spending bill to keep federal services running for a few more months — and with no cuts to Planned Parenthood.
Republican leaders decided they had little choice but to abandon the effort to eliminate Planned Parenthood money, calling off plans to draw President Obama into a veto fight over the family-planning funds.
With Wednesday’s funding deadline looming, the Senate overwhelmingly advanced the government funding bill by a 77-19 vote. More than half the Republicans in the Senate joined Democrats to break the filibuster by conservative Republicans, led by Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a presidential candidate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledged the bill, which will keep government running through Dec. 11, was not his preference. But he called it a compromise to keep his promise to avert a crisis.
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Final passage in the Senate is likely to come Tuesday. The House is expected to vote Wednesday.
The Senate vote came on the first day lawmakers were back at work after House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, abruptly announced he would resign rather than continue to fight conservatives.
House passage of the bill by Wednesday’s deadline is not guaranteed. But after Boehner’s move, it makes it easier for the embattled speaker to compromise with Democrats for passage.
Cruz, however, portrayed Monday’s vote as another example of the compromises that are fueling “volcanic” voter anger with Washington.
“There is a reason the American people are fed up with Washington. There is a reason the American people are frustrated,” Cruz said in a floor speech after the vote. His procedural move to alter the outcome was shot down by his colleagues.
Conservatives wanted to shift money away from Planned Parenthood after secretly taped videos showed organization officials discussing the use of aborted fetuses in medical research.
The government funding bill also includes $700 million to fight wildfires in California and other Western states.
McCarthy says he’s running for Speaker position
U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said he’s running to replace Speaker John Boehner, a position the five-term California congressman appears prepared to win easily.
“We can’t ignore the differences that exist, but we can and must heal the divisions in our conference with work, time and trust,” McCarthy said Monday in an email to Republican colleagues released by his office. “That is why I have decided to run for Speaker of the House and graciously ask for your support.”
McCarthy is likely to win an election to replace Boehner, said House Republicans Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Tom Cole of Oklahoma on “Fox News Sunday.”
House Republicans plan to meet late Tuesday afternoon to discuss how they’ll proceed, according to a person familiar with the discussions who sought anonymity.
So far, Representative Daniel Webster of Florida — who got 12 votes in January against Boehner — is the only other announced candidate for speaker. He isn’t seen as a formidable challenger.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas decided not to seek a leadership position and will support Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price of Georgia for majority leader, his spokeswoman Sarah Rozier said in an email. Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan also endorsed Price for the No. 2 job on Monday.
Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, now the Republican whip, No. 3 in the leadership, has told colleagues he wants McCarthy’s current job. In addition to Price, the No. 4 Republican, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington, may also seek McCarthy’s position.