House passes bill to keep federal government open…for now

U.S. Capitol dome restoration formally finished November 15, 2016. (Photo: Alex Schuman)

The House of Representatves has passed a short-term spending bill, the first step as the Republican-led Congress tries to avert a government shutdown at midnight Friday.

The vote was 231-188 on Thursday. The stopgap bill keeps money flowing to the Pentagon and domestic agencies through Jan. 19.

The Senate still must vote.

Lawmakers were rushing to complete the bill while they punted on more contentious issues, leaving fights over health care, immigration and national security until next year.

The spending bill is combined with a $2.1 billion fix for an expiring program that pays for veterans to seek care outside the Department of Veterans Affairs system and a temporary fix to ensure states facing shortfalls from a children’s health program won’t have to purge children from the program.

It also contains a short-term extension for an expiring overseas wiretapping program aimed at tracking terrorists.

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