Senate averts government shutdown, sends funding bill to Biden’s desk

WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a spending bill Wednesday night, ending the GOP’s spending battle and the threat of a government shutdown until after the holidays.

The bipartisan vote was 87-11, with 10 Republicans and one Democrat — Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado — voting against the bill.

“Because of bipartisan cooperation, we’re keeping the government open without poison pills or damaging cuts to vital programs — a great result for the American people,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said before the vote.

The short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution, or CR, cleared the House on Tuesday by a lopsided 336-95 vote, with all but two of the no votes coming from Republicans. The funding bill then heads to President Joe Biden’s desk for his expected signature.

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

Stay tuned for live updates.

Without CR, public funding would have run out by late Friday. New House Speaker Mike Johnson’s staggered, or “ladder,” CR would fund part of the government — including the Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development departments and the Veterans Affairs departments — through Jan. 19 and fund the Defense Department and the remaining parts of the government up to and including 2 February.

Passing a bipartisan CR that funds the government into the new year will prevent Congress from passing another massive omnibus spending package right before Christmas, argued Johnson, R-La.

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CR is “clean,” with no spending cuts or contentious policy provisions that would alienate Democrats. It also does not include a supplementary package covering things like aid to Israel and Ukraine, humanitarian aid or border security, leaving those issues to later this year.

The CR is designed to buy more time for House Republicans to pass appropriations bills and for House and Senate negotiators to reach an agreement on funding. The House has passed seven of the 12 annual appropriations bills that fund the government for an entire fiscal year, while the Senate has passed three.

But as recently as Wednesday, House Republicans were struggling to advance their individual appropriations bills over party lines over amendments, raising questions about whether the House will be able to complete its spending bills before the next funding deadlines.

Johnson and his leadership team sent House lawmakers home for the Thanksgiving break early Wednesday after two appropriations bills ran into trouble.

“We demand of our leadership: Put the right bills on the floor with the right policies in them at the right levels, and then we will vote for them,” said Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., the chairman. of the far-right Freedom Caucus, which led the opposition. “But don’t act like you’re actually trying to get to a proper level of consumption, and don’t act like you’re actually going to fight about these issues when you plan to fail.”

Still, Johnson deflected questions about whether he is frustrated by the setbacks.

“No, we are not frustrated. This is part of the process. We are working towards consensus,” Johnson said after votes were called off. “I’ve been on the job less than three weeks. I think we’ve had a good run.”

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Asked whether House Democratic morale was high amid the GOP struggles, Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, DN.Y., said his weekly report to the Congressional Black Caucus on Wednesday was short and sweet.

“No spending cuts, no far-right policy changes, no government shutdown, no votes tomorrow, Happy Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s the type of report that, when you’re able to give it, means that morale is very high.”

Did Jeffries have any advice for the new speaker? a reporter followed up.

“Good luck!” he joked.

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