House avoids government shutdown with hours to spare

Posted at 8:11 PM, Dec 11, 2015

WASHINGTON — On the day the federal government is due to run out of money, Congress did what it does best — punted the deadline for a few more days to avoid a shutdown.

Negotiators crafting a massive spending bill are still debating the final contours of a deal, so the House on Friday sent a bill to President Barack Obama giving congressional leaders until Wednesday night.

The President signed the bill into law late Friday afternoon.

With a fall budget deal already establishing the overall spending levels, House Speaker Paul Ryan is immersed in talks about which policy riders will be attached to the bill. Those on the table run the gamut from a measure requiring more vetting of refugees from Iraq and Syria to regulations over clean air and water.

“I believe we are making good progress,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, who is writing the bill with leaders, said on the House floor on Friday, adding he expected to be able to finish action by the new deadline next week.

Multiple House Republican members told CNN that Ryan is deliberately keeping them in the dark on the details of what’s in or out of the package. He’s asked members to trust him as he faces his first major negotiation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who is continuing to press hard for Democratic priorities in return for votes from her members.

Ryan pledged he would allow members three days to review the details. Most members and aides expected a deal to be released on Monday, with a House vote on Wednesday. But there is little margin for error since this latest stopgap bill expires on Wednesday night so it’s likely that Congress will need to pass another short-term bill next week.

For now, House GOP members appear content to give Ryan more time, and understand much of the bill is leftover business from former Speaker John Boehner.

“This is one where we were served up a particular deck of cards, if you will, and we’ve got to play it in order to keep from getting a shutdown. And I think both sides want to see that accomplished,” Florida GOP Rep. Dennis Ross told CNN.