The House voted Saturday to grant back-pay to federal employees for time missed during the government shutdown, and to allow military chaplains to go back to work, bringing to nine the number of targeted appropriations bills it's approved.
“We have committed to fund the areas of government we agree on, which is a lot more than not,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said after the vote on the fifth day of the government shutdown. He predicted that the measures would pass the Democratic Senate if they were brought to a vote, but Democrats have no plans to allow such votes.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he will not entertain most smaller funding measures in lieu of full government funding, and President Obama has threatened to veto most of the GOP’s piecemeal funding measures.
The House votes, which reauthorized funding for military and other Department of Defense workers and the District of Columbia, among other programs, have been largely crafted for political gains. As Democrats hold out for a measure to reauthorizing all government spending at once without strings attached — extending the shutdown — Republicans have begun to promote government funding for specific priorities, many of which they have angled to cut in the past.
“This debate really is about the appropriate role of the federal government,” said Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who sits on the House Budget Committee. “These are the priorities that we would set if we had a cooperative person on the other side.”
The proposals for which government programs to fund have come not from a large, fleshed-out strategy, but from suggestions by rank-and-file House Republicans, Price said.
In many instances, the targeted funding measures have been brought to a vote immediately following extensive news coverage of a program, such as with the National Institutes of Health, which cannot conduct clinical trials for cancer patients during a government shutdown, among other services. The House approved a measure to restore funding to NIH earlier this week.