Government operations are generally funded by 12 annual spending bills, known as “appropriations bills.” (For example, one annual spending bill funds Agriculture Department programs and operations, while another funds those of the Defense Departmen.) Since none of those 12 bills had been enacted, a temporary measure – known as a “continuing resolution” or “CR” -- was needed to keep the government running on a short-term basis.
Rep. David Obey (D-WI) urged support for the measure: “…This legislation is one page long. It does only one thing: It changes the date so we can keep the government running from this Friday, December 3 to Saturday, December 18. Otherwise, the government would shut down.”
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) sharply criticized the measure: “…I cannot and will not support this CR because it continues unsustainable levels of spending established last year. At a time of historic deficits, record debt, and 10 percent unemployment, I believe we owe our constituents more than the status quo. Let's start cutting spending, Mr. Speaker, today.”
Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) urged opposition to the legislation: “Today's CR is nothing but a continuation of the culture of overspending, persistence of a broken process, and a refusal to make the tough decisions, end earmarks, and do the job we were sent here to do. As a result, our federal spending is off the charts. We are staring at another trillion-dollar budget deficit. Debts are stacking up over $13 trillion. Unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent, and congressional approval by the public remains at an all-time and dangerous low.”
Obey shot back: “Let me simply say that I will take a lot of lectures from a lot of people on a lot of subjects, because I have made more than my share of mistakes in the years that I have served in this place. But the one thing that I will not take is lectures from the other [Republican] side about fiscal responsibility…. these are the folks who managed to turn $6 trillion in expected surpluses when Bill Clinton left office into a $1 trillion deficit. These are the same folks who insisted on passing two tax cuts primarily targeted at the wealthiest people in this country, all paid for with borrowed money.”
The House passed this legislation by a vote of 239-178. 237 Democrats and 2 Republicans voted “yea.” 170 Republicans and 8 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House passed legislation to keep government agencies and programs operating until December 18, 2010.