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Congress Approves Stopgap Spending Measure; Some Funding For Federal Agencies, Global Health Programs Delayed

Congress Tuesday “approved a temporary spending bill [.pdf] that will fund the federal government for another 10 weeks through March 4 in order to avoid a government shutdown,” Agence France-Presse reports.

“The Senate adopted the stopgap measure 79-16 followed by the House of Representatives 193 to 165 before the continuing resolution – a law funding the federal government – was set to expire Tuesday at midnight,” according to the news service (12/21). According to the Associated Press, President Barack “Obama was poised to sign it by midnight to avoid a government shutdown” (12/21).

“The effective spending freeze amounts to a reduction when rising costs are taken into account – a welcome outcome to many Republicans – and disrupts the government’s ability to carry out programs and policy changes,” the New York Times writes, noting this stopgap measure is the fourth one “since the fiscal year ended Sept. 30.” The legislation is delaying “[h]undreds of millions of dollars in aid to nations like Pakistan” and holding up “American contributions to global health and emergency food programs.”

“Republicans say Democrats are to blame … Democrats say Republicans are stalling until next year …  But the finger-pointing is largely irrelevant to dozens of budget-constrained federal agencies … that depend heavily on year-to-year financing approved by Congress. Agencies have some ability to move money among programs to deal with changing priorities, but they say it is not enough to ensure that they can meet all their responsibilities,” according to the New York Times.

The article reports on some of the stopgap measure provisions and looks at what Senators have said about the bill (Herszenhorn, 12/21).

Ros-Lehtinen Announces Subcommittee On Oversight And Investigations Chair

Also Tuesday, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), the incoming House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, “named Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) as her point man on oversight and investigations related to the Obama administration,” Foreign Policy’s blog “The Cable” reports.  

“I will be establishing mechanisms for Americans to blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse in State Department and Foreign Aid operations by welcoming anonymous tips,” Ros-Lehtinen said before highlighting Rohrabacher’s past work with the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, noting that he helped with the U.N. Oil for Food program investigation (Rogin, 12/21).

Minnesota Independent Reports On Child Marriage Bill Co-Author’s Reaction To Bill’s Defeat

On the legislation front, the Minnesota Independent looked at the recent defeat of the International Protecting Girls by Preventing Child Marriage Act, which was co-authored by the state’s Democratic Rep. Betty McCollum.

Though the bill “passed the Senate unanimously … when [it] reached the House … Republican leaders circulated a memo urging members of the party to vote against the bill,” the publication writes before quoting from the memo. “The bill provides little structure or oversight on how the money may be spent,” it said. “The President is authorized under this bill to provide assistance through nongovernmental organizations that are charged with the promotion of ‘health’ of girls and women. It is possible that some of these NGOs may view abortion as health care and promote abortion services as a part of that health care.”

McCollum said the idea that the bill would fund abortions was “completely untrue.” The act “failed,” she said, “not because of the issue, but because a handful of Republicans chose partisan politics over the basic human rights of young girls” (Birkey, 12/21).