Senate Desperately Tries To Avert Shutdown Through Holidays

Lawmakers averted a potentially disastrous government shutdown on Thursday night, when President Joe Biden signed another stopgap funding bill that the Senate passed just the night before.
The measure passed in the upper chamber of Congress in a large bipartisan fashion, by a vote of 87-11. Only one Democrat – Senator Michael Bennet from Colorado – and 10 Republicans ended up voting against it.

Before the Senate took its vote, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said:

“Because of bipartisan cooperation, we are keeping the government open without any poison pills or harmful cuts to vital programs – a great outcome for the American people.”

The House initiated the short-term spending build, also called a CR or continuing resolution. It is actually a two-step bill that was announced by new House Speaker Mike Johnson.

It marks a major initial legislative victory for Johnson, whose plan initially was dismissed by many Democrats and even some Republicans. In the end, though, the bill passed through the House by a vote of 336-95. Only two Republicans ended up voting against it.

Schumer spoke to the work that Johnson did in the House, commenting:

“If the speaker is willing to work with Democrats and resist the siren song of the hard right in the House, then we can avoid shutdowns in the future and finish the work of funding the government.”

Had the CR not been passed, funding for the federal government would’ve run dry on Friday. The laddered CR will fund a part of the government through January 19, with the Department of Defense and some other agencies being funded through February 2.

Johnson said that the big advantage of setting up the deadlines like he did is that it prevents Congress from having to take up an omnibus spending bill just before Christmas.

Many hard-line Republicans were pushing for heavy spending cuts as well as other policy provisions. However, Johnson’s CR includes none of that, which is what led to the strong support from Democrats.

There’s also no supplemental package to include items such as military aid for Ukraine or Israel, border security or humanitarian assistance. All of those items will now have to be taken up separately.

What the CR does is give Republicans in the House extra time to pass appropriations bills. It also gives both chambers of Congress the opportunity to come to a final agreement on the omnibus spending bill.

Thus far, the Senate has passed three of the 12 appropriations bills that have to be passed each year, while the House has passed seven of them.

Just a few days ago, though, Republicans in the House were having trouble advancing their own appropriations bills because of divisions within the party over specific amendments. That raised many questions about if the House would’ve been able to complete the spending bills it must do before deadlines in the future.

Representative Scott Perry from Pennsylvania, who chairs the Freedom Caucus – the far-right group in the House that’s fighting for certain things to be included – commented this week:

“We’re demanding of our leadership: Put the right bills on the floor with the right policy in them at the right levels, and then we’ll vote for them. But, don’t act like you’re actually trying to get to a correct spending level, and don’t act like you’re actually going to fight on these issues when you plan to fail.”