Arkansas delegation backs House 2013 funding bill


WASHINGTON — Arkansas’ U.S. House delegation voted with the majority Wednesday in approving a $982 billion stopgap measure that would keep the federal government running through the 2013 fiscal year.

The continuing resolution approved in a 267-151 vote would extend authorization for government spending from March 27 to the end of September.

The bill would also give the Department of Defense more flexibility as it implements the $45 billion in military reductions required under sequestration, a series of mandatory across-the-board spending cuts.

Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, said he was “proud” to support the legislation.

“There is no doubt America has a spending problem, and House Republicans remain committed to making the real reforms and targeted cuts we need to get our fiscal house in order. While we continue to wait for the administration to work with us, it’s important to make strides where we do agree,” Womack said. “I am proud to have supported today’s CR, which does this by avoiding a government shutdown and prioritizing our nation’s security.”

Reps. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, and Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, also voted for the bill that heads to the Senate, where the Democratic majority will likely focus on softening the sequester blow to non-defense programs.

Congress has three weeks remaining to extend funding authorization or face a partial government shutdown – something neither Democrats nor Republicans are eager to see occur.

The House-approved bill also includes a $2.5 billion increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs and a provision that would keep Saturday mail delivery from the U.S. Postal Service.

House Democrats spoke out against the bill, saying Republicans could have avoided sequestration cuts by closing tax breaks for oil companies and businesses that ship jobs overseas.