J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — A massive $1.1 trillion spending bill to fund the government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year is getting generally positive reviews from House Republicans eager to avoid another shutdown crisis with elections looming in 10 months.
Veteran Republicans said the favorable response to the all-encompassing spending bill reflected the desire of the rank and file to avoid a repeat of the politically damaging budget standoffs with the White House that led to last year's 16-day partial government shutdown. The government closure sent congressional approval numbers plummeting and roughed up Republicans in particular. They've regained support amid the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama's health care law.
"The shutdown educated — particularly our younger members who weren't here during our earlier shutdown — about how futile that practice is," said House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. "There is a real hard determination now that we will reacquire and use the power of the purse that the Congress constitutionally has been given."
Rep. Steve Womack, R-Ark., said the bill would get "our country off this notion of shutting the government down" and would allow Republicans to "keep the spotlight on some other issues that affect the other side that we think are very important," a reference to the health care law that's weighing politically on Democrats.
Tea party favorites like Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were slow to criticize the measure, which appears likely to pass the Senate no later than Saturday and probably before. Cruz was a key force in the politically disastrous strategy to shut down the government over funding of so-called Obamacare.
The massive measure contains a dozens of trade-offs between Democrats and Republicans as it fleshes out the details of the budget deal that Congress passed last month. That pact gave relatively modest but much-sought relief to the Pentagon and domestic agencies after deep budget cuts last year.
Western Republicans from timber country were anxious about a cutoff of funding of federal payments in lieu of taxes to towns surrounded by federal lands but were reassured that the payments would be extended though separate legislation. Gulf Coast lawmakers praised a provision aimed at delaying federal flood insurance premium increases from new flood maps that have proven faulty, but the provision left in place other reforms enacted in 2012.
The GOP-led House is slated to pass the 1,582-page bill Wednesday, though some tea party conservatives are sure to oppose it.
Democrats pleased with new money to educate preschoolers and build high-priority highway projects are likely to make up the difference even as Republican social conservatives fret about losing familiar battles over abortion policy.
The bill would avert spending cuts that threatened construction of new aircraft carriers and next-generation Joint Strike Fighters. It maintains rent subsidies for the poor, awards federal civilian and military workers a 1 percent raise and beefs up security at U.S. embassies across the globe. The Obama administration would be denied money to meet its full commitments to the International Monetary Fund but get much of the money it wanted to pay for implementation of the new health care law and the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.
"This agreement shows the American people that we can compromise, and that we can govern," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. "It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics."
The House vote is expected less than 48 hours after the measure became public, even though Republicans promised a 72-hour review period for legislation during their campaign to take over the House in 2010.
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