Finance

Senate passes short-term funding bill to avert shutdown

The Senate on Thursday approved a short-term government funding bill, less than two days ahead of a looming shutdown deadline on Friday night.

Senators voted 72-25 to advance the bill, sending the must-pass legislation to the House, where it is expected to pass swiftly before heading to President Biden’s desk for signature. 

“We’re not going to shut the government down,” House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told reporters on late Wednesday, adding she is “ optimistic that we’re going to pass a bill.”

The bill, also known as a continuing resolution, will temporarily allow the government to remain funded at the current spending levels through mid-December, giving negotiators and leadership more time to work out a larger agreement over how to fund the government for fiscal 2023, which begins on Saturday.

The legislation also includes more than $12 billion in security and financial assistance for Ukraine to defend itself from Russia’s ongoing invasion, as well as funding for disaster relief, following a White House request for emergency funding in both areas weeks back. 

However, the package excludes supplemental funding for the nation’s coronavirus and monkeypox response, despite a request by the White House for billions of dollars, over staunch GOP opposition.

The passage on Thursday afternoon caps off weeks of drama in the upper chamber, after members on both sides of the aisle came out against a push by Democratic leadership to use the vehicle to advance an energy proposal offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

Manchin and top Democrats had previously struck a deal to advance the proposal, which is aimed at speeding up the country’s energy infrastructure projects, as part of a larger agreement to gain his support for the Inflation Reduction Act, a sprawling tax, climate and health care plan passed along party lines last month.

But the proposal, which ​​advocates say would undercut environmental reviews, fell out of the package earlier this week due to opposition from more than a handful of Senate Democrats and a growing number of Republicans that threatened final passage for the overall funding plan. 

Republicans also saw rifts in their own party in recent weeks amid disagreement over how long Congress should put off hashing out new government funding levels, with the November midterm races approaching around the corner.   

A growing number of House conservatives, and some in the Senate, have been pressing for leaders to wait until January to set new funding limits, as GOP hopes swell of taking back control of Congress. 

However, other Republicans have pushed back on the campaign, raising concerns about how putting off new funding levels could hurt agencies and set back the next session of Congress, particularly as the Senate’s top two appropriators are stepping down. 

The heated debate comes as anticipation builds on Capitol Hill around the coming critical midterm elections, which members on both sides say will likely be a major factor in larger funding talks for fiscal 2023.

“Obviously, the results of the midterms will have a lot to do with our ability to get this done,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee, told The Hill ahead of the vote on Thursday. “But with both Sen. Shelby and Sen. Leahy retiring, I think there’ll be a lot of support within both caucuses to get a budget done before they retire.”

Tags Biden Chris Murphy Continuing resolution funding Government shutdown Joe Manchin Rosa DeLauro

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