Averting a third government shutdown, President Clinton signed a stopgap spending bill Friday keeping federal employees on the job and programs working at least until March 22.
Although the White House and Congress remain far apart on how much money the government will spend and how for the rest of this fiscal year, neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted to bear the political fallout from another shutdown of dozens of government departments and agencies.
Democrats, however, offered Republicans little help in pushing the stopgap bill through the House by a 238-179 vote Thursday. The Senate adopted it without opposition Thursday night after Republicans agreed to add $727 million in environmental funds to the $160 billion measure that would finance spending through the end of September, when the fiscal year runs out.
Votes on the environmental money, other amendments and final passage were scheduled Tuesday - the same day Clinton plans to release his budget proposal for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Democrats groused about the disruption and uncertainty caused by operating the government with short-term spending bills. The measure adopted Thursday was the 10th since the start of October.
“I don’t think that we can sustain this for much longer,” said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D. “There’s growing resentment and growing anger at the approach.”
Clinton wanted $8 billion in additional spending on education, environmental protection, law enforcement and technology research.
The Senate added $2.7 billion for education and job-training on Tuesday but a day later, it killed efforts to add money for hiring police officers and technology development.
Not wanting to be pictured as anti-environment, Republicans agreed to finance much of the approximately $900 million Democrats sought for the environment, but without money to clean up Boston Harbor.
Both House and Senate plan to send Clinton a 16-month extension of the government’s borrowing authority by March 29 and then leave for the Easter and Passover recess.