The House yesterday passed legislation to fund federal government operations at their current levels after the end of this fiscal year, Sept. 30. The continuing resolution also includes $6.5 billion in bond-related development grants.

The bill was approved by a 370 to 58 vote. It would extend appropriations for all agencies and activities that would be covered by regular fiscal year 2009 appropriations, until enactment of such appropriations bill or until March 6, whichever occurs first. Congress has failed to pass appropriations bills for the next fiscal year.

The continuing resolution was presented as an amendment and will need to be sent back to the Senate for approval.

The legislation contains $22.9 billion in disaster relief, $487.7 billion in defense funding, $40 billion for the Department of Homeland Security, and $72.9 billion for military construction and veterans. The bill includes low-income energy assistance and automobile manufacturing loans as well.

The bill would provide $6.5 billion in community development block grants, which can be used in conjunction with municipal bonds. The CDBG fund provides grants to state and local governments to pay for economic development projects.

Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, said the CDBGs would "provide devastated communities with the federal grants they need to provide temporary housing ... and fund critical community development activities."

Under the process used for the resolution, no amendments were allowed and many Republican members of the House railed against their inability to contribute to the creation of the bill, which was put together by Democratic congressional leaders. But GOP lawmakers also praised the absence of an offshore drilling ban in the bill.

The Senate on Tuesday night passed a stand-alone bill with funding for the Federal Aviation Administration and the Airport Improvement Program that had been a candidate for funding under the continuing resolution. The Senate unanimously approved a six-month extension of FAA funding.

The bill now goes to President Bush for his signature. It contains $1.95 billion of airport improvement program grants, federal funding allocated to states that is sometimes used to back tax-exempt bonds, but more often to supplement other funding sources such as bond proceeds and state and local grants.

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