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House passes bills to fund Transportation Dept., HUD, Agriculture

House passes bills to fund Transportation Dept., HUD, Agriculture

The Democratic-led House passed a standalone spending measure Thursday to provide funding for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and other agencies.
The House voted 244-180 to approve the clean funding measure. Twelve Republicans bucked party lines to join Democrats in voting for the bill on the floor.
The chamber then voted 243-183 to pass a separate measure to fund the Department of Agriculture and related agencies through Sept. 30, with 10 Republicans joining Democrats to vote for the measure.
That bill would also allocate funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a top priority for lawmakers concerned that millions of Americans could lose access to food stamp benefits after temporary funding provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture runs out at the end of February.
The lower chamber is expected to vote on its final standalone spending bill to fund the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday.
Passage of the measures Thursday come on the 20th day of the partial government shutdown, with no clear path forward to reopen agencies as negotiators remain in a stalemate over President Trump’s demand for border wall funding.
Trump, who is requesting $5.7 billion for border security, has vowed not to sign any legislation that doesn’t provide funding for his proposed barrier. He delivered a prime-time address Tuesday and was traveling to a border town in Texas on Thursday to make the case for getting the money.
Top Democrats have repeatedly said they will not comply with the administration’s demands for wall funding.
The 12 Republicans who voted for the Transportation bill Thursday is an uptick from the eight who voted the previous day on a measure to reopen the IRS, Treasury Department and other federal agencies.
GOP Reps. Pete King (N.Y.), Rodney Davis (Ill.), Steve Stivers (Ohio) and Chris Smith (N.J.) joined with others Republicans to advance the latest measure, including Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.), Will Hurd (Texas), Fred Upton (Mich.), John Katko (N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Greg Walden (Ore.), Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.). All twelve received fewer than 60 percent of the vote in the 2018 midterm elections. Stivers served as chairman of the House GOP campaign arm in the 2018 cycle.
House Democrats crafted a strategy to pass four individual funding bills aimed at reopening various unfunded parts of the government in an attempt to pressure Senate Republicans, who have said they will not take up spending bills that don’t have Trump’s approval.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier Thursday blocked two House-passed funding bills that would reopen the federal government. One would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through Feb. 8, and a separate package would have funded the remaining agencies without current-year appropriations through Sept. 30.
Democratic leaders are looking to peel off GOP lawmakers from standing with Trump on the shutdown. Democrats pushed Republicans to vote for the House bills Thursday as they contain identical language to what passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee with overwhelming bipartisan support.
Democrats have also accused Republicans of holding government funding hostage over partisan priorities, calling on the president to support spending bills that reopen portions of the government before they discuss the wall.
While a handful of moderate GOP members backed the Democrat-introduced measures on the floor, top Republicans have expressed confidence that the conference will largely remain unified in supporting the president’s fight for the wall.
Top Republicans have alleged Democratic negotiators are playing politics and have failed to produce a counteroffer to the president. House GOP leaders and administration officials have been urging members to continue to support the president, arguing the clean bills brought to the floor are “show votes” that won’t solve the issue at hand.