House GOP attempts to avert a government shutdown

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Last Updated Mar 4, 2013 5:15 PM EST

Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky.
AP

With the next potentially bloody budget battle on the horizon, House Republicans are trying to get ahead of government shutdown talk by passing their own bill this week to fund the government past March 27 when current funding expires and to potentially soften the blow from some of the sequester cuts implemented last week.

Chairman of the House Appropriations Committeee, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), unveiled a $982 billion spending bill Monday to keep the government open and funded through the end of the fiscal year in late September.

"This bill will fund essential federal programs and services, help maintain our national security, and take a potential shutdown off the table" said Rogers.

The package, which is expected to come to the House floor for a vote Thursday extends funding for current government programs though some additions were made "to prevent catastrophic, irreversible or detrimental changes to government programs."

Those additions boost funding by $2 billion for embassy security in the wake of the Benghazi attack. They also prevent the sequester from forcing the FBI and Customs and Border Protection to cut any staff and allow extra funding to operate and maintain federal prisons.

In an effort to ease concerns of House Republican defense hawks upset by the sequester's impact on defense, the Appropriations Committee also attached full spending bills for the Departments of Defense and Veterans' Affairs to give those agencies some cushion and flexibility in implementing the cuts rather than requiring an across the board slash to all military accounts.

In particular, the committee shored up DOD's Operations and Maintenance account which helps pay for military training, equipment and military facility maintenance. Much of that funding was taken from equipment procurement accounts and research and development, according to a GOP Appropriations Committee aide.

This week's action in the House will be the first step in what both President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, hope will be different from past budget fights that truly did threaten to lead to the government shutting down because of a lack of agreement on Capitol Hill over spending cuts and funding levels.

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