WASHINGTON (AP) — After weeks of intense partisan fights, the House is showing it can come together on major legislation after all.
Voting on its first big bill since the end of a 16-day partial government shutdown, House Republicans and Democrats acted in near unison, voting 417-3 to pass an $8.2 billion bill that sketches out plans for dams, harbors, river navigation and other water projects for the coming decade.
In doing so, the House brushed aside criticism from outside conservative groups, many of which backed the shutdown and opposed the water bill.
Members of both parties said the vote showed the House could knuckle down and work together on important legislation even after a bitter fight over the shutdown a potential federal default. Lawmakers praised the legislation as a potential job creator and said it would allow vital infrastructure upgrades in waterways across the country to move forward.
"It's a testament to the greatness of our system of government, despite what's happened the last several weeks, that we can still work together on something like this," said Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, the senior Democratic on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which wrote the bill.
Added House Speaker John Boehner, "It's another example of the People's House focusing on ways to strengthen our economy."
To pass the bill, many conservative Republicans had to ignore FreedomWorks, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Heritage Action for America and seven other outside groups that wrote lawmakers in opposition to the bill, saying it didn't do enough to cut spending or block unneeded projects. Both FreedomWorks and Heritage Action had whipped up support for the government shutdown
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. said he was able to persuade some of the House's most conservative members to vote for the bill by making a constitutional argument.