The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner reassured Americans Thursday that lawmakers will come together to pass a temporary measure to keep the federal government running, saying there will be no government shutdown. The day before, the Republican-controlled House defeated a continuing resolution to fund the government, meaning that Boehner has to draw up a new bill that can also win approval in the Democratic-controlled Senate.
Public opinion polls show that Americans are tired of the repeated budget dramas that have played out in Washington during the past year, threatening a partial federal government shutdown in April and narrowly averting a potential default on the national debt in August. The Republican leadership in the House introduced a temporary spending measure on Wednesday that they hoped would be passed quickly, so that lawmakers could leave town on Friday for a planned recess.
But 48 members of Speaker Boehner's Republican Party joined with all but six House Democrats to defy their leadership and defeat the temporary spending measure. The defeat of the bill raised the specter of another budget showdown, but Boehner said lawmakers will come to an agreement before government funding runs out on September 30.
"Listen, there is no threat of government shutdown. Let's just get this out there," Boehner said.
Boehner rejected any assertion that the defeat of the spending bill means he is not in control of his own Republican caucus.
"I understood what the risk was yesterday. But why not put the bill on the floor and let the members speak, and they did," Boehner said.
The measure would have funded the federal government through November 18, with the cuts in government spending agreed to in the debt ceiling negotiations. But many Republicans, especially conservative and libertarian Tea Party supporters, wanted deeper cuts. Democrats opposed a provision that would have required the costs of disaster assistance to Americans to be offset by cuts elsewhere in the budget.
In the Senate, lawmakers are waiting for the House to pass a spending bill, so that they can vote on it. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin offered a few words of advice to Speaker Boehner on how to get a continuing resolution, or CR, passed in both chambers.
"Live by the agreement we reached just a few weeks ago. Pass a clean CR and the bipartisan disaster relief bill that we have already passed in the Senate. It is really a pretty simple approach," Durban said.
Asked when lawmakers would get a spending measure passed and be able to leave for their recess, Senate Majority Leader, Democrat Harry Reid said normally it takes a few days to get a measure passed, but that it might be faster this time.
"Always remember, because you have seen it as often as I have, magic occurs on Thursday night. So we will wait and see," Reid said.
Analysts say that Americans weary of partisan budget wrangling are hoping lawmakers will find some "magic" to come to an agreement on keeping the U.S. government running past September 30.