Stop-gap measure averts shutdown

Bill keeps government running, avoids Wright-Patt furloughs.

Even the threat of a government shutdown is big news in Ohio, where memories are still raw over past work stoppages at installations such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

So word of a deal Wednesday that will avert a shutdown was greeted with relief, even if it’s only a short-term fix.

“Shutting down the government is not an option,” Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a conference call with reporters. “Everyone understands the importance of this bill.”

Both Ohio senators — the Democrat Brown and Republican Sen. Rob Portman — voted in support of a measure to fund the government until after the November election. The Senate vote was 72-26.

As of Wednesday evening, the House appeared poised to follow suit, which will mean Wright-Patterson can avoid furloughing thousands of employees, halting some operations and delaying some programs. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force was forced to close temporarily during the October 2013 shutdown.

Brown said in a statement after the vote that the bill would boost efforts to fight Zika, protect Lake Erie and the water in Flint, Mich., and Sebring, Ohio, and keep water bills low for Ohio consumers.

Democrats and Republicans had been at odds over how much additional money to add to fight the Zika virus as well as a provision pushed by House Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood.

Among the provisions the final version of the bill included was $37 million to fight the opioid epidemic — money requested by Portman.

The Republican senator called for additional money for the program, saying the $37 million is “a down payment that helps put us on a path to fully funding” a bill he introduced to fight the epidemic. Portman is in a re-election fight against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.

The bill also included language providing the U.S. Department of Energy the flexibility to avoid disrupting cleanup at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio.

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