House passes $915 billion spending bill


US Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) (C) speaks as Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) (L) and House Majority Whip Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) listen following a Republican Conference meeting on Capitol Hill on Dec. 16, 2011.


Alex Wong

The House prevented a partial government shutdown that would have occurred tonight by passing a $915 billion spending bill to pay for core functions of the federal government, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The bipartisan vote was 296-121, according to the LA Times.

The bill is now in the hands of the Senate, which is expected to pass it. The Senate has until Saturday night to vote and send the bill to President Barack Obama.

House Democrats had attempted to delay voting on the spending plan until an agreement was reached on a separate bill that would extend the payroll tax holiday and jobless benefits, CNN reported, but Republicans pushed back. "We forced them to go ahead and sign the conference report and get that done so that the government doesn't shut down, and we feel victorious on that," Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Georgia, told CNN today.

Negotiations on the payroll tax cut extension continued today, the LA Times reported, and there were rumors about a new idea being considered by the Democrats. A Senate Democratic leadership aide told CNN that Democrats are now considering proposing a two-month extension of the payroll tax cut extension bill which "clears the way for negotiations to continue on a larger deal.” The revised bill would be returned to the House.

Asked about that proposal, House Speaker John Boehner told the New York Times, “I’ll just say this: If that bill comes over to us, we will make changes to it, and I will guarantee you that the Keystone pipeline will be in there when it goes back to the United States Senate.”

Republicans are insisting the payroll tax cut bill includes language that speeds up government approval of the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

President Obama has vowed to veto any payroll tax cut bill that includes a provision about the Keystone pipeline, the New York Times reported.

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