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House action averts shutdown

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Overcoming strong objections from liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans, the House of Representatives passed a $1.1 trillion spending package late Thursday, funding most of the federal government through September with hours to spare before the government was scheduled to run out of money.

By a 219 to 206 vote, lawmakers approved a package of 11 spending bills to finance most government agencies for the coming fiscal year and one short-term measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security through Feb. 27, 2015.

Hawaii’s two Democratic representatives, Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa, voted against the legislation.

House lawmakers then approved a short-term funding measure — a continuing resolution — by voice vote to give the Senate time to act on the huge budget bill. The Senate, which is expected to take up the measure this weekend, then acted without dissent to keep the government open for two more days to give itself time to debate the longer-term package.

The 1,600-page bill, nicknamed "Cromnibus," was supposed to be a done deal, a bipartisan measure crafted by House and Senate appropriators and negotiated by congressional leaders in both parties. But the bill unraveled Thursday — the deadline for when the federal government was to run out of money — when Democrats strenuously objected to two provisions.

One would change the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul by giving banks more freedom over their derivatives business, loosening controls put in place after the 2008 financial crash.

The other would allow individuals to give to the Democratic and Republican congressional campaign committees far more than now permitted for recounts and other legal initiatives and the same amount for each committee’s building fund. This would be in addition to the current $32,400 limit.

The Democratic complaints revealed a split with President Barack Obama on the bill. Earlier in the day, the White House released a statement supporting the bill despite its objections to the Dodd-Frank and campaign finance provisions.

"It is a compromise and it does fulfill many of the top line priorities that the president himself has long identified," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., denounced the two provisions on the House floor. She said she wouldn’t vote for the bill but added that Democrats were free to vote their conscience.

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