House passes fourth spending bill to reopen shuttered parts of government, measure...

House passes fourth spending bill to reopen shuttered parts of government, measure dead on arrival in Senate

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U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives Friday passed the fourth iteration of a series of spending bills to reopen parts of the government that have now been shut down for 21 days — a tie for the longest shutdown in U.S. history.

The measure passed 240-179. Ten Republicans voted with the Democratic majority.

The legislation funds the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through Sept. 30.

The House passed legislation on Thursday to fund the Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). On Wednesday the House passed legislation to fund the Department of the Treasury.

With Friday’s vote, the House has now approved legislation to cover four of the seven outstanding annual appropriations bills.

Nevertheless, the bills are considered dead on arrival in the Senate because they do not include money for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Trump has said he will allow the shutdown to continue until Congress agrees to allocate $5.6 billion for the wall. Moreover, Trump has said if an agreement on the wall is not reached he will declare a national emergency in order to get it built.

It is unclear whether a national emergency declaration would give the president the authority to bypass Congress.

Article I, Sec. 9, Clause 7 of the U.S. Constitution states: “No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

But Trump may be able to use appropriated funds that have not been spent.

Democrats are expected to pursue legal action if Trump declares a national emergency to build the wall.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that Trump would incur blowback from Republicans if he declares a national emergency for the wall.

“The president will have problems on his own side of the aisle for exploiting the situation in a way that enhances his power. But let’s see what he does,” Pelosi (D-Calif.) said at a news conference.

However, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is one of Trump’s closet allies in Congress, has encouraged the president go ahead and declare a national emergency for the wall.

Friday is the first day since the shutdown began at midnight on Dec. 22 that many federal employees missed a paycheck. An estimated 800,000 are said to be affected.

Both the House and Senate have passed legislation to provide backpay for federal employees once the shutdown ends. Trump has signaled that he will sign the legislation into law at that time.

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