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Congress Clears Government Funding Bill to Avert Shutdown

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What You Need to Know

  • The federal government would be kept open through Dec. 3 under the legislation.
  • A stopgap spending bill is needed because none of the 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 have been enacted into law.

The House passed a nine-week spending bill to avert a U.S. government shutdown hours before it was set to begin on an 254 to 175 vote. The legislation passed the Senate earlier Thursday and now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk.

The bill passed both chambers after Democrats dropped an earlier attempt to attach a debt-ceiling suspension to the bill in face of implacable Republican opposition to that measure. GOP senators blocked a version of the bill containing the debt ceiling language on Monday.

The federal government would be kept open through Dec. 3 under the legislation. The bill also contains $28.6 billion for states recovering from hurricanes and wildfires as well as $6.3 billion to resettle refugees from the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Republicans said the last minute stopgap vote was the fault of Democrats who had tried to tie the bill to the debt ceiling last week.

“We did not need to be in the place just hours before the deadline,” said Appropriations Committee top Republican Kay Granger of Texas said on the House floor, noting she had voted against the bill last week over the debt issue.

House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said Republicans are threatening the economy to play politics on the debt ceiling.

“This is not about as some of colleagues would like to say about paying for spending going forward. This is about paying for the past,” she said. “Now is the time for us to raise the debt ceiling in order to do that.”

Democrats urged GOP senators to consent to passing that via a simple majority with only Democratic votes. So far Republicans have rejected that, trying instead to force Democrats to undertake a weeks-long budget process to do the same thing.

“Why do the Republicans refuse the raise the debt limit?” Senate Appropriations Chairman Patrick Leahy said.  “Why are they willing to make us look like idiots in front of the rest of the world? Why are they willing to put so many people out of work?”

A stopgap spending bill is needed because none of the 12 regular appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 have been enacted into law amid a dispute between Democrats and minority Senate Republicans over spending levels for the military and domestic programs.

Leahy said Wednesday he plans to unveil draft spending bills soon to jump-start the process of negotiating a solution before the new deadline.

The stopgap bill does not include a proposed $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system despite widespread support for the provision.

The House has passed a standalone bill providing that funding, and the Senate may take that bill up soon according to senators in both parties.

(Image: Shutterstock)

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