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House passes government funding bill; Senate vote next

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 256-167 to approve a $1.3 trillion spending bill that will fund the government through Sept. 30.

The vote came hours before the government was set to shut down with the expiration of a short-term funding measure that ended a previous closure in February. The measure now heads to the Senate. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., held up votes during a debate last month long enough to cause the earlier shutdown. Paul has not said whether he will attempt to block passage of this bill, though he has been critical of the process.

The funding package includes boosts to defense spending Republicans are touting as a victory, while greater funding for social programs like affordable housing encouraged Democrats to vote for the legislation. Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said on March 22 that the president will sign it if it reaches his desk.

The bill also includes some specific technical corrections to the Republican tax law passed at the end of 2017, with a focus on provisions affecting farmers. At a news conference held before the vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said the law likely will need additional changes in the future.

"When you convert your international system from worldwide to territorial, like the Brits did, like the Japanese did, there are going to be details that you miss," Ryan said, referring to the provisions of the bill governing the taxation of corporations operating overseas. "There are going to be lessons that you learn. We are going to take some more time to get those lessons, and I believe, by the end of the year, we'll have some lessons learned, needing some technical fixes that will have to happen."

He added that, if lawmakers must enact technical corrections, they should also work to continue to improve the tax code.