After being stuck for months, the Republican-controlled House finally passed three annual spending bills on Thursday. However, Congress is still close to shutting down the government.
Why it matters: The Republicans think that if they work together on budget bills, they will have more power in talks with the Senate and be able to get bills passed that pay for the government.
What happened: The House passed three of the four Republican appropriations bills that were voted on late Thursday night. These were the first bills of this kind to pass since the August break.
State Department and Foreign Operations: Passed 212-112, with Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) voted with Democrats against it.
Defense: It was passed by a vote of 218 to 210, with Reps. Jared Golden, a Democrat from Maine, and Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez, a Democrat from Washington, voted with Republicans and right-wing Reps. Tim Burchett (R-Tennessee) and Ken Buck (R-Colorado) voted against the bill with the Democrats.
Homeland Security: Passed with a vote of 220-208. Democrats Golden and Gluesenkamp Perez joined Republicans in voting for the bill.
Agriculture and FDA: Failed 191-237. 27 Republicans voted no, mostly moderates who didn’t want the language to limit access to abortion pills and rural members who didn’t want spending cuts.
The mystery: The House also approved, by a vote of 311 to 117, a separate $300 million aid plan for Ukraine that includes appointing a special inspector general to keep an eye on the money.
The idea was taken out of the military bill to make Greene happy. He was one of the most adamant opponents of US help for the Ukrainian war effort in the House GOP.
More than half of House Republicans voted against it, which shows that Republicans are getting more against Ukraine. Democrats, on the other hand, voted for it more than twice as often as Republicans.
What’s next: On Friday, the House is likely to try to pass a “continuing resolution,” which is a Republican bill to temporarily extend government funding.
But enough Republicans have said they won’t vote for a continuing resolution that it seems hard for a party-line vote to pass.
The Senate is trying to pass a temporary bill that is supported by both sides, but conservative lawmakers are making it hard to do so.
Since Democrats control the Senate, any continuing resolution must be the result of talks between the two houses. This puts House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a very dangerous position.
The big picture is that a continuing resolution just buys time, anywhere from a few months to a few days, because both houses still need to pass a lot of important spending bills.
Republicans in the House have passed four of the twelve appropriations bills, including the three passed on Thursday and military building and veterans affairs, which were passed in July. So far, the Senate hasn’t passed any.
But the House appropriations bills are full of right-wing policy riders and keep spending at 2022 levels, which are lower than the budget caps set in both the bipartisan debt ceiling deal and the Senate appropriations bills.
This puts the two sides behind schedule and far apart, with little time to come to an understanding and get it passed before Oct. 1.