Senate passes 45-day funding bill to avert government shutdown

Senate passes 45-day funding bill to avert government shutdown
  • PublishedOctober 1, 2023


About three hours before a midnight deadline, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan bill Saturday evening to keep the government funded for 45 days, on a vote of 88 to 9, just before a government shutdown was to go into effect. 

The bill, which funds the government through Nov. 17, now goes to President Biden’s desk for his signature. 

“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” Mr. Biden said in a statement after the passage. “This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people.”

No Democratic senators voted against the measure, with all nine no votes from Republicans. 

“It’s been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breath a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor after the vote. “There will be no government shutdown.”

The House had passed the measure that afternoon, after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced in the morning that he would try to push the short-term funding bill through the House with Democratic help — a move that could keep the government open but would put his speakership at risk.

The bill ultimately won support from more Democrats than Republicans in the House, with 90 Republicans voting no. Just one Democrat voted against the measure.  

The House passed a bill 335-91 Saturday afternoon to fund the government for 45 days, hours before a government shutdown was to go into effect. 

The bill House Speaker Kevin McCarthy put to a vote ultimately won support from more Democrats than Republicans. Ninety Republicans voted no on the continuing resolution to fund the government, and just a single Democrat voted against the short-term funding measure. The bill would fund the government at current 2023 levels for 45 days. It does not contain funding for Ukraine that was sought by Democrats but opposed by many Republicans but does include spending for disaster relief.

McCarthy was forced to rely on Democrats for passage because the speaker’s hard-right flank said it would oppose any short-term measure. The speaker set up a process for voting requiring a two-thirds supermajority, about 290 votes in the 435-member House for passage. Republicans hold a 221-212 majority, with two vacancies.

Before the vote, McCarthy indicated that the cost of a shutdown to Americans, particularly those in uniform, was too high. “I am asking Republicans and Democrats alike, put your partisanship away, focus on the American public,” he said. “How can you in good conscience — think of the men and women who volunteer to risk their lives to defend us — to say they can’t be paid, be while we work out our differences — that is unfair. I cannot do that to our men and women in uniform.” 

Ukraine funding not included in short-term spending bill

In his statement, Mr. Biden addressed the absence of Ukraine funding in the bill, saying that “we cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”  

Prior to the Senate vote, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, had put a hold on the continuing resolution over the Ukraine funding issue, according to two congressional sources.

The White House earlier welcomed passage of the House bill, noting that it “keeps the government open at a higher funding levels” than a version the Senate had earlier been considering, “and includes disaster relief and FAA authorization,” a White House official said. 

Two Senate GOP aides told CBS News that last Sunday, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken told McConnell that the Biden administration had exhausted nearly all available security assistance funding for Ukraine and could not make it through a 45-day period based alone on existing drawdown authorities, the mechanism used to transfer military equipment to Ukraine. Based on that guidance and despite the knowledge that it would draw House opposition, McConnell agreed to support the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s continuing resolution, which contained $6 billion in support for Ukraine for 45 days.  

A House lawmaker with knowledge of the Ukraine funding issue confirmed to CBS News that the Biden administration had given House lawmakers a similar message and said something would have to be done relatively quickly to move on a supplemental Ukraine aid bill before the 45 days are up. But Republican House leaders are confident that there’s bipartisan support for this. 

Republican Sen. Mike Rounds, of South Dakota, said Ukrainians “should not take anything negative” from the vote Saturday and added, “we can do border security and a supplemental on Ukraine in a connected type of approach somewhere in a very short time period, whether that’s over the next two days, three days, 10 days.”

The Senate had been working on advancing its own bill that was initially supported by Democrats and Republicans and would fund the government through Nov. 17.

But once the House plan emerged, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his members to vote no on advancing the Senate version to see whether the House could get its temporary funding measure passed. 

Funding bill may keep government open but risks McCarthy’s speakership

McCarthy announced Saturday morning he would try to push the 45-day funding bill through the House with Democratic help — a move that could keep government open but would put his speakership at risk.

“The House is going to act so government will not shut down,” McCarthy said, after an early-morning meeting with the Republican conference Saturday. He told reporters that it would give lawmakers more time to finish work on individual appropriations bills. 

Relying on Democratic votes and leaving his right-flank behind is something that the hard-right lawmakers have warned would risk McCarthy’s job as speaker. They are almost certain to quickly file a motion to try to remove McCarthy from that office, though it is not at all certain there would be enough votes to topple the speaker.

“If somebody wants to remove because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. “But I think this country is too important.”

The quick pivot to Saturday’s bill came after the collapse Friday of McCarthy’s earlier plan to pass a Republican-only bill including severe border security provisions and steep spending cuts up to 30% to most government agencies that the White House and Democrats rejected as too extreme. It failed because of opposition from a faction of 21 hard-right holdouts.

Catering to his hard-right flank, McCarthy had returned to the spending limits the conservatives demanded back in January as part of the deal-making to help him become the House speaker.

Some of the Republican holdouts, including Gaetz, are allies of former President Donald Trump, who is Biden’s chief rival in the 2024 race. Trump has been encouraging the Republicans to fight hard for their priorities and even to “shut it down.”

What a shutdown would mean

Without short-term funding before midnight, federal workers face furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast will begin to face shutdown disruptions.

A shutdown would pose grave uncertainty for federal workers in states all across America and the people who depend on them — from troops to border control agents to office workers, scientists and others.

Families that rely on Head Start for children, food benefits and countless other programs large and small would be confronting potential interruptions or outright closures. At the airports, Transportation Security Administration officers and air traffic controllers would be expected to work without pay, but travelers could face delays in updating their U.S. passports or other travel documents.

— Margaret Brennan, Jack Turman, Keshia Butts, Ellis Kim, Willie James Inman and Alan He contributed to this report.


Source link