Six-month spending bill in works

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WASHINGTON (AP) — As its last major act before leaving Washington for the fall campaign, the House is voting to put the government on autopilot for six months.

The temporary spending bill is needed to avert a government shutdown when the current budget year expires Sept. 30. At issue are the day-to-day operating budgets of Cabinet agencies that are funded annually by Congress through 12 appropria-

tions bills.

Today’s vote represents a retreat by tea party House Republicans, since the stopgap measure permits spending at a pace that’s $19 billion above the stringent budget plan authored by GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

Instead, the measure permits spending at the higher budget “caps” permitted under last summer’s hard-fought budget and debt deal between President Barack Obama and Capitol Hill Republicans. Typically, short-term spending bills freeze agency budgets at existing levels, but today’s measure actually would permit an across-the-board 0.6 percent increase, in keeping with the budget deal. It also maintains spending on domestic programs rather than shifting $8 billion from domestic programs to the Pentagon.

The measure would replenish disaster aid coffers, finance the food stamp program after it lapses on Sept. 30 and reauthorize for six months federal grants to states to run their welfare programs.

Even though it abandons the GOP budget, the six-month spending measure has backing from conservatives who want to avoid the prospect of an omnibus spending bill in the postelection lame duck session and who hope to have greater leverage

next year.

The Senate is expected to easily pass the bill next week and then adjourn for the campaign.

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