Funding Bill Passes, Includes Waiver for Trump Pick

WASHINGTON (CN) – The House of Representatives passed a $1 trillion, short-term funding bill Thursday that will keep the government open through April.

Clearing the House 326-96 this afternoon, the bill keeps the government funded at current levels through April 28 and pushes the next funding battle into the Trump administration. The bill now heads to the Senate, which has scheduled a vote for Sunday – one day after the previous stopgap spending resolution.

A sweeping biomedical bill that the Senate passed Wednesday is included in the bill, which also carves out $170 million to help communities struggling with contaminated drinking water improve their infrastructure and undertake other initiatives.

The stopgap also includes a waiver to let Gen. James Mattis serve as Donald Trump’s secretary of defense. Secretaries of defense are required to be at least seven years removed from military service, but the waiver will grant a one-time exception for Mattis, who retired in 2013.

Though the Thursday bill, known as a continuing resolution, passed the House easily, it is expected to face a tougher battle in the Senate as Democrats are wary of a provision that extends health benefits for retired miners through April.

Democrats were hoping for a more comprehensive deal on the issue and have threatened to vote against the continuing resolution, which could trigger a government shutdown.

“I’m against the CR because the miners got screwed rawly, so you don’t even have to go there,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters Wednesday. “I’m against that CR. I want to shut her down.”

Manchin said he hoped instead for a short-term extension that would push the funding deadline back just a few days, enough time for Republicans and Democrats to work out a better solution on the miner health benefits.

“We gave them a letter Oct. 1 saying, ‘You’re losing your healthcare on Dec. 31,'” Manchin said of the miners and their families. “Now we’re going to tell them in January, ‘You’re going to lose it in April.'”

He called such an arrangement “inhumane.”