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House sends $1.1 trillion spending bill to Senate

– A large bloc of House conservatives voted Wednesday against a $1.1 trillion spending plan to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, saying the new bipartisan agreement fails to scale back the health care law or dramatically pay down the national debt.

But the spending bill easily passed the House 359-67 with broad support from Republicans and Democrats. The measure moves to the Senate, where it is expected to pass easily before heading to President Barack Obama for his signature.

“While this bill isn’t perfect, it cuts discretionary spending to the lowest level since fiscal year 2009, returns to a regular-order budget process, and ensures that disabled veterans and surviving families receive the benefits they’ve earned,” Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-3rd, said in a statement.

The agreement, unveiled late Monday, restores federal spending to levels set in the final years of the George W. Bush administration, restores about $20 billion in funding to the Pentagon budget but mandates more spending cuts at domestic agencies.

But 64 Republicans – most of them ardent fiscal conservatives – voted against the bill. Republicans opposed to the measure included six running for Senate seats: Georgia Reps. Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston, who face one another in a GOP primary; Rep. Tom Cotton, Ark., who is running against Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor; and Rep. Steve Daines, Mont., who is running for an open seat.

Democrats voting against the bill were Raúl Grijalva, Ariz., Rush Holt, N.J., and Mike McIntyre, N.C.

The vote margin exceeded that of the House’s final vote on the bipartisan budget agreement passed last month that sketched out the blueprint for the spending deal.

Government funding was set to expire Wednesday night, but the Senate approved a three-day extension around midday in order to give the slower-moving chamber more time to move the bill past procedural hurdles. Senators are expected to vote on the measure by Friday.

The House unanimously approved the extension Tuesday, but 14 Republican senators voted against the extension out of concern that leaders were needlessly rushing the debate on the more than 1,500-page agreement.

“If anyone wants to know why the nation is in fiscal trouble, look no further than the massive omnibus bill being jammed through Congress currently,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said after voting against the extension.