Early Saturday, the White House announced President Obama signed legislation that will keep the federal government funded until April 28. The House approved the legislation earlier this week and left for the holidays. The four-month extension sets up a spending fight during President-Elect Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office.
The legislation, known as the Continuing Resolution, passed the Senate just before midnight Friday in a 63-36 vote after Democrats gave up blocking the bill over a dispute regarding health care for retired coal miners. Although the vote averted a government shutdown, that was never really an option. Incoming Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said, “We never intended to shut down the government. We've made our point."
The legislation was expected to clear the Senate easily after leaders on both sides of the aisle said they would back it. But some red-state Democrats objected to taking a vote because they sought to resolve the matter of coal miners’ health benefits and a Buy America amendment requiring that U.S.-made steel be included in any infrastructure projects the government funds. Kelsey Snell reports:
"If you're alive today, for most of your life, over 50 percent of your energy has been given to you, has been delivered to you because of coal," Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., who led the effort to delay he bill, said on the Senate floor. "We need to bring attention to the people who have done the work. They're forgotten heroes. In West Virginia we feel like a Vietnam returning veteran. We've done everything that our country has asked of you, and now you won't even recognize us, don't even understand what we've done."
"That's what we're fighting for," he said.
Manchin faces a tough reelection fight in 2018 in a state that voted 68 percent for Donald Trump. He was joined in the effort to fix the retirees’ health benefits problem by four other Democratic senators who will also be campaigning for reelection in two years: Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.