The House has passed a $1 trillion-plus catchall spending bill paying for day-to-day budgets of 10 Cabinet departments, averting a government shutdown. The 296-121 vote to approve the measure represented a rare moment of bipartisanship in a polarized Capitol. The vote sends the measure to the Senate, which is expected to pass it tomorrow. Many provisions sought by House Republicans were dropped from the bill before its passage, and Democrats blocked a series of GOP assaults on EPA regulations, though the agency's budget absorbed a cut of more than 3%.
GOP leaders did succeed in halting new rules requiring energy efficient light bulbs, delays in regulations of coal dust, and eliminating federal funding of needle exchange programs. The bill chips away at the Pentagon budget, foreign aid, and environmental spending but boosts funding for veterans programs. The SEC won a 10% budget increase; popular education initiatives for special-needs children and disadvantaged schools were basically frozen; and Obama's cherished "Race to the Top" initiative, which provides grants to better-performing schools, will absorb a more than 20% cut.