By a vote of 260 to 167 the U.S. House passed the FY2011 spending bill Thursday. That will take care of government spending through the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30. It cuts $38 billion dollars from the level in place when the year began. Later Thursday the Senate passed the legislation 81 to 19 sending the compromise to the President's desk. President Obama is expected to sign the measure, the product of Friday's eleventh-hour compromise that averted what would have been the first government shutdown in 15 years.
The final legislation cut $23 billion less than House Republicans had sought. House Speaker John Boehner,R-Ohio, who negotiated the deal with Senate Democrats and the White House, made his final pitch Thursday afternoon.
"Does it cut enough? No," Boehner said on the House floor. "Is it perfect? No. I'd be the first one to admit that it's flawed. Well, welcome to divided government."
Many lawmakers said they were struggling with how to vote right up to the last hour. Complicating the decision, an independent analysis released Wednesday indicated that the bill's immediate effect on the amount the government will spend in 2011 would be minimal. Much of the $38 billion in reductions would come over time or from standing accounts.
The House is now focused on the FY2012 budget which cuts $4.4 trillion dollars of deficit spending in the next decade. This bill seems to have a clearer path to the President's office. A House vote is expected later Friday.
The next big issue is raising the debt ceiling, which could be hit while Congress is in recess, June 24 to July 8.
Many Republicans, Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., have said that they won't consider an increase in the debt ceiling unless Congress first acts to trim the annual budget deficit, estimated to top $1.6 trillion this year, and begins to lower long-term debt.
"Obviously, we're going to require, as a condition for raising the debt ceiling, something really important about the debt," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell, R-Ky., said. "Congress must do something that the markets would view as significant, something the American people would view as significant, something foreign countries would view as significant."