House passes bills to reopen Agriculture, Transportation departments

The House passed two spending bills Thursday to reopen shuttered parts of the government that address public health, agriculture, food stamps and housing, though the bills have an improbable fate in the Senate and the threat of a presidential veto.

The legislation was the second of four appropriations bills Democrats are bringing to the House floor this week to keep the spotlight on the partial government shutdown, now in its third week. Each bill aims to reopen shuttered parts of government, piece by piece, as the standoff continues between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over border wall funds.

Twelve Republicans joined with Democrats to pass the first bill Thursday, which aims to reopen the Department of Transportation and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The vote was 244-180.

The House also passed a bill, 243-183, to reopen the Department of Agriculture — which runs the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as SNAP or food stamps — as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Despite the lapse in funding, the Department of Agriculture will continue providing food stamps to millions of Americans through February, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced Tuesday.

On that vote,10 Republicans sided with Democrats. The legislation got slightly more Republican support than a separate spending bill Wednesday to reopen the Treasury Department and the IRS, which had eight Republicans support it.

Still, the vast majority of the GOP conference objects to the strategy, many of them labeling the approach a political stunt by Democrats.

On Friday, lawmakers are expected to vote on a bill to reopen the Interior Department, which runs national parks.

While the bills have previously been passed by the GOP-controlled Senate, the White House announced Trump would veto the legislation, and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he won’t bring any shutdown-related bills to floor without the President’s support.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday the House will vote on more spending bills next week.