US Senate Passes Bill To Avert Government Shutdown

US Senate Passes Bill To Avert Government Shutdown

The US Congress scrambled Thursday to approve temporary funding to thwart a partial government shutdown.


The US Congress scrambled Thursday to approve temporary funding to thwart a partial government shutdown, as forecasts for a snowstorm piled pressure on lawmakers already racing against the clock to keep the lights on.

The Senate passed a “continuing resolution” to fund federal agencies through early March, with the House of Representatives expected to follow suit early evening.

Quick passage in the Republican-controlled House would get it to President Joe Biden’s desk before funding expires at the end of Friday, keeping several departments threatened with closure open into March.

The deadline for passing the legislation is even tighter in reality, as the House announced it would close Friday in response to a storm expected to pile snow on the already frozen East Coast overnight.

“We have good news for America: There will not be a shutdown on Friday,” Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said in a speech to colleagues.

“Because both sides have worked together, the government will stay open. Services will not be disrupted. We will avoid a needless disaster.”

Under the agreement, agriculture, energy and water, military construction and veterans’ programs, transport and housing would be funded until March 1.

The military, Justice Department, border security, Congress, and many other federal agencies and departments would be able to function until March 8.

That will give lawmakers more time to set the full-year budget in line with spending limits that Democrats and Republicans agreed to last year.

Negotiations have been hamstrung by the demands of House Republicans for sweeping cuts and “poison pill” concessions on immigration that are dead on arrival in the more moderate Senate.

– Dysfunction –
Despite the urgency, dozens of conservatives in the House are expected to vote against the stop-gap measure. However, Democrats will almost certainly provide Republican Speaker Mike Johnson enough backing to smooth its passage.

Relying on Democratic support to cancel out Republican no-votes is the practice that got Johnson’s predecessor Kevin McCarthy axed in an October rebellion by his own party. Leading right-wingers have made clear that the current speaker risks the same outcome.

The inability of lawmakers to pass a full budget for a fiscal year that started almost four months ago has highlighted dysfunction in Congress, which is also deadlocked on foreign aid requested urgently by the White House.  

Republicans are demanding tightened border security and strict immigration curbs before they will consider Biden’s request for $106 billion in supplemental cash, mostly for Ukraine and Israel.

Party leaders in the Senate are strong supporters of Ukraine aid but many hard-liners in the House are skeptical that handing Kyiv more money to repel the two-year-old Russian invasion is in US interests.

Both sides agree that record numbers of migrants crossing from Mexico is a crisis that needs to be addressed, although they disagree on the response.

Schumer, the leader of the Democratic Senate majority, aims to introduce a bipartisan border security and foreign aid bill next week, although Johnson has refused to commit to bringing the bill to the House floor.

Having sounded the alarm for more than a year over the “humanitarian catastrophe” of the migrant surge, Republicans will face accusations of bad faith if they refuse even to consider the package.

Johnson told Fox News he had been talking about the border “pretty frequently” with former president Donald Trump, who is running for reelection and is pressuring Republicans not to give Biden a win on immigration.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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