As the public's patience with partisan politics wears thin, signs in Washington indicate possible movement toward bipartisan budget decision-making. The House passed a bill which would fund government programs through this fiscal year on Wednesday. The Senate is expected to pass a similar measure soon. Also on Wednesday, President Barack Obama invited Republican Senators to dinner.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
Legislation easily passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday to avert another partisan budget battle and a possible government shutdown, as President Barack Obama also opened new lines of communication with Republicans.
By a vote of 267-151, the House passed a measure to fund government programs until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The Democratic-controlled Senate is expected to pass a similar bill next week.
Without such legislation, federal agencies would run out of money on March 27.
The bill to continue funding the government without last-minute drama came as Obama took the unusual step of inviting Republican senators to a dinner on Wednesday night at a Washington hotel a few blocks from the White House that lasted about an hour and a half.
An administration official told Reuters Obama was hoping to take advantage of a lull in a series of budget crises to launch a dialogue with Republican lawmakers, which he hopes will lead to a broad deficit-reduction deal.
While the dinner was not intended to be a negotiation, it was an opportunity for Obama to correct the record on a perception among some Republicans that he is unwilling to consider some difficult spending cuts that are unpopular with his fellow Democrats in Congress.
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