With just a few hours to spare, bipartisan majorities in both the Senate and House passed a continuing resolution (CR) to beat a midnight deadline and keep the federal government funded at current levels through December 3.
But with one crisis averted, leaders in the Democratic-controlled Congress remained uncertain about the fate of the key items in President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda: a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion partisan package to fund education, health and climate initiatives.
What’s more, a mid-October deadline still looms for lawmakers to increase or suspend the nation’s debt limit and avoid defaulting on the national debt.
Passing the CR may turn out to be the easy part, as numerous Republicans were willing to support it after Democrats uncoupled it from a debt ceiling increase.
Among the Oklahoma delegation, only Rep Tom Cole (R-OK4) voted for it. All others voted no.
“Essentially, it’s a Donald Trump budget, if it’s in its purest form,” said Rep. Kevin Hern (R-OK1) in an interview Thursday, “which is a little bit ironic that the Democrats have full control and they’re using President Trump's budget.”
The measure does contain new money for disaster relief and for resettling Afghan evacuees, but no extra money for the military, which meant a "no" vote from Sen. Jim Inhofe.
“I am not going to be intimidated to do something,” Inhofe (R-OK) said Thursday morning, “and saying you can do anything you want right up to the last minute and then you say we’ve got to do this or the government will shut down.”
Meanwhile, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Thursday morning she would follow through on a promise to bring the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to the floor for a vote, despite the possibility that it might not pass.
Progressive Democrats have said they would vote against it, without movement in the Senate on the president’s $3.5 trillion human infrastructure package. Negotiations with moderate Democratic Senators to bring the total cost of that package down have so far failed to yield a deal.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is in D.C., meeting with, among others, the Mexican ambassador.
“We are trying to request to get another consulate to Oklahoma to represent the growing Hispanic community in our state,” Stitt said in an interview on Wednesday. “I think it’s our second biggest trading partner, so it’s important that we have a great relationship with Mexico.”
Last night was the annual Congressional baseball game, won 13 to 12 by the Republicans, whose roster included Hern.
“It was nice to remove the politics from this place for albeit three hours and 17 minutes,” said Hern. “It was great.”