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Senate passes short-term funding bill to avert government shutdown

U.S. Capitol
Greg Nash
The U.S. Capitol is seen from the East Front Plaza in Washington, D.C., on Monday, November 28, 2022.

The Senate on Thursday passed a short-term funding bill that punts Friday’s government shutdown deadline through next week as negotiators race to patch together a larger government funding deal for fiscal 2023.

The Senate voted 71-19 to pass the continuing resolution (CR), sending the legislation to President Biden for approval after it passed the House the night before on a vote of 224-201. 

The bill freezes funding levels through Dec. 23 to buy time for ongoing spending negotiations, preventing a shutdown that would have otherwise begun on Friday at midnight. 

Leaders on both sides of the aisle have been working to pass an omnibus spending package by the end of the month, with sights set on final passage by Christmas Eve.

But divisions have been on display within the GOP over how long lawmakers should put off setting new government funding levels — particularly as Congress prepares to usher in a newly Republican-led House next month. 

Twenty-two Republicans joined Democrats in passing the legislation on Thursday. However, others in the GOP have pushed against a one-week CR in favor of a stopgap bill that would kick the deadline into the new year to give the party more influence on how the government should be funded for fiscal 2023, which began in October.

Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.),  a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee who voted against the stopgap bill, told The Hill ahead of the vote that he would have only backed the measure if it moved the deadline into next year. 

“I think most Republicans are gonna listen to the Republicans that just gave us the House back, and why would you do that when we’re gonna have more input into it, even though it might be a process, a little bit of turmoil, why would you do that now?” Braun said. 

The passage on Thursday capped off several hours of drama leading up to the final vote.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) confirmed to reporters around noon that he placed a hold on the CR, saying: “I think it’s a good idea that we move it into the spring with the new Congress.”

Other Senate Republicans opposing the bill also pressed for partisan amendments ahead of the vote.

Just nine out of 213 House Republicans voted with Democrats to advance the bill on Wednesday, after GOP leadership urged rank-and-file members to reject the short-term funding bill.

Opponents of passing an omnibus this year also point to the coming retirements of Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), the chairman and vice-chairman of the appropriations panel, while arguing Congress needs to have a fresh start on appropriations beginning the new year.

“We should not move a short-term CR,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said hours before the House vote on Wednesday. “We should move one further into the new year. Allow the American people what they said a month ago — to change Washington as we know it today. We can’t afford to continue to spend the way the Democrats have. The future generation cannot afford it as well.”

But other Republicans have pushed for an omnibus to be enacted sooner, citing concerns about funding for defense and national security.

Top negotiators announced a bipartisan deal on a framework for an omnibus funding package for fiscal 2023 earlier this week, despite the opposition from McCarthy.

Shelby told reporters on Wednesday that GOP negotiators have been “basically negotiating with the House Democrats and the Democrats here because some of the House Republicans have not shown as much interest in getting an omnibus.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said earlier this week that lawmakers are “very close to getting an omnibus appropriations bill,” and set a cutoff date for Dec. 22 for Congress to wrap up its work.

Updated at 11:05 p.m.

Tags Biden continuing resolution CR funding bill government shutdown Joe Biden Kevin McCarthy Mike Braun Rand Paul

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