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House Passes Latest Bill to Continue Funding US Federal Government

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a temporary spending bill to continue funding the federal government for three more weeks, in an effort to avert a government shutdown at midnight on Friday. But 54 Republican lawmakers voted against the bill put forward by their own leadership, sending a clear warning sign that they are tired of temporary spending measures.

The vote was 271 in favor and 158 opposed to the temporary spending bill, which imposes $6 billion in cuts in spending for non-defense government programs over the next three weeks.

Democrats and Republicans have been locked in an epic battle in recent months over government spending, disagreeing over which domestic government programs should be cut and by how much. The Republican majority in the House favors larger spending cuts than Democratic President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate.

But there is one thing both Democratic and Republican lawmakers heartily agree on, that Americans are sick and tired of temporary, stopgap budget measures.

“This is no way to run a government. Lurching back and forth like a drunken sailor, the agencies not knowing when or whether they are going to get their money. Actually I should take that back, because the Navy would never conduct operations like this,” said Democratic lawmaker Jim Moran of Virginia.

Republican Harold Rogers of Virginia agreed that he does not like two or three-week temporary measures, known as continuing resolutions, but he said it is time for the White House and the Senate to act.

“Yes it is a terrible way to do business, and this should be the last CR[continuing resolution] extension that we pass before we have an agreement with the other body and the White House on the rest of this year,” Rogers said.

Tuesday’s vote was the sixth time the House of Representatives has passed a temporary spending measure to fund the federal government for the 2011 fiscal year. Last month, the House passed a bill that would have cut $60 billion off government spending for the current fiscal year, but the measure was defeated in the Senate.

But a growing number of House Republicans, especially those backed by the fiscally-conservative Tea Party movement, are calling for even more drastic cuts in domestic spending and an end to temporary spending measures. Some want to de-fund public broadcasting programs and to de-fund President Obama’s sweeping health care reform law passed last year.

Republican Mike Pence of Indiana was one of 54 Republican who voted against Tuesday’s bill, saying that the country faces a debt crisis of unprecedented proportions, and that it is time for lawmakers to take a stand for American taxpayers.

Now, all eyes again turn to the Senate, which has until Friday to pass the same temporary spending bill to keep the U.S. federal government running past this Friday - at least until this new measure expires on April 8.