BY BILL ORR
Update 5:00pm: The House just passed the bill 277 to 151. We will find out later how our NJ Representatives voted. The President will sign it. The federal government will remain open. It’s another last-minute rush.
Update 4:15pm: The Senate just sent to the House a “clean” bill to keep the federal government open. We are still waiting for a House bill.
House Leader Republican John Boehner is probably feeling relieved these days following his announced resignation effective the end of October. He has gone through constant battles with President Obama, the Senate leadership and many Republican House members who worked on dethroning him and wanted ever more conservative bills. Before going to bed last night he knew he had one important job to accomplish today.
Maybe Boehner tied a string on his finger to serve as a reminder, and maybe other legislators did as well. He has said he will not close down the government and will put to a House vote a “clean” bill with no provision of defunding Planned Parenthood in order to keep the federal government going tomorrow. Of course, we cannot discount last minute surprises, including a new broader agreement with President Obama.
Most likely the House bill will be presented, and it will be supported by Democrats. Because we are right up to the deadline many Republicans will likely acquiesce in order to avoid the wrath and scorn which would descend upon them if the government is shut down.
It will be interesting to see how the NJ contingent votes. The Democrats will say YES, and likely some Republicans will as well. Rep. Scott Garrett (CD 5) is opposed and other Republicans may join him. The accompanying Senate bill also still needs passing, but the votes are there, and our two senators will support it.
Unfortunately, the new House leader, congress members, and the public can not rest easy. Legislators may need to tie another string on their fingers. The bill will only be a stop-gap measure which expires on December 11. The travesty of of dysfunction, wasted effort, inaction, excessive in-fighting, and last minute bills will not disappear. Happy Holiday season!