- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a $24 billion spending bill that funds the IRS and other agencies affected by the partial government shutdown through Sept. 30, as Democrats look to flex their new majority to put pressure on congressional Republicans amid the ongoing standoff.

The House voted 240-188 to pass the financial services and general government funding bill.

The vote took place shortly after President Trump walked out of shutdown negotiations with Democratic leaders, saying Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated that Democrats wouldn’t agree to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall even if the president agrees to open the government.

“At the end of the day, the president’s beloved border wall is the issue solely responsible for this irresponsible shutdown, and it is an absolute disgrace and a disservice to all Americans to allow this broken campaign promise to hold all of the key funding bills hostage,” said Rep. Mike Quigley, Illinois Democrat.

Despite a veto threat from the White House, Democrats are figuring that passing individual bills to fund popular programs affected by the shutdown gives them a chance to pick off some GOP support and divide Republicans.

But in the end, just eight Republicans broke ranks to vote with Democrats to pass the bill.

Rep. Tom Graves, Georgia Republican, said the move was just another political stunt on the part of Democrats. The House had already approved similar legislation last week as part of a larger package.

“The 116th Congress continues now under this cloud of a partial government shutdown, and it is for one reason and one reason only, and that is the Democrats continue to put their political agenda ahead of the security of our country,” Mr. Graves said.

The bill provides full-year funding for the Treasury Department, including the IRS, amid questions of whether or not the tax-collecting agency will be able to issue refunds if the funding lapse continues into tax filing season.

The IRS said Monday it will be issuing refunds even amid the shutdown, as the Trump administration looks to blunt some of the effects of a lapse in funding that’s affecting roughly one-fourth of the federal government’s discretionary accounts.

The bill the House passed Wednesday would also provide a 1.9 percent pay increase for civilian federal employees in 2019, after Mr. Trump had taken steps to institute a pay freeze.

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