Senate Adopts Stopgap Spending Measure, Preventing Immediate Government Shutdown
By April Fowell
In an attempt to enact a stopgap budget bill in time for the rapidly approaching deadline at the end of the week, the Senate cleared its first obstacle on Tuesday night.
A continuing resolution, which is the vehicle for the interim measure, was advanced by the upper house by a vote of 68-13. It would offer both houses more time to approve longer-term funding by extending the government spending deadlines to March 1 and March 8.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, emphasized the urgency of swiftly passing an extension during this week's legislative proceedings. The primary objective is to secure the necessary votes for the continuing resolution (CR) before the approaching Friday deadline.
Expressing optimism about the process, Schumer highlighted the importance of bipartisan collaboration across both chambers. He stressed the need for cooperation from both Republicans and Democrats in the House and the Senate, underscoring the essential role of bipartisan support in advancing the bills effectively. Schumer's goal is to conclude the legislative work on the CR no later than Thursday, provided that both sides maintain their commitment to working in good faith.
Impending Government Shutdown and Budgetary Challenges
When funding for several agencies expires on Friday, the federal government will partially shut down unless a continuing resolution is passed. The latest interim measure expires on February 2nd for funding in other departments.
Last week, Schumer and Louisiana Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson came to an agreement on the total amount of money to be spent on yearly appropriations bills. The agreement largely followed one reached by President Biden and Republican Californian Kevin McCarthy, the then-house speaker, last year.
In order to prevent a government shutdown, Congress was under pressure to rely on another short-term funding extension, but the Senate and House appropriations committees were left with little time to draft and approve the measures.
If approved, it would be Congress's third short-term budget agreement since September.
Johnson would have trouble passing the plan in the House since extreme conservatives there have opposed short-term financing solutions and insisted on spending substantially less than what legislative leaders have agreed to. The numerous absences that House Republicans are experiencing further reduce their already narrow majority.
McCarthy lost his speakership last year when he and Johnson both had to depend on Democrats to pass the House's continuing resolutions. Hardliners' resistance to the most recent agreement means Johnson will probably need to rely on Democrats to approve the legislation in order to maintain government funding.
At first adamant about not accepting another short-term extension, Prime Minister Johnson changed his mind as the time for the January shutdown drew near. In defense of the move on Sunday, he presented it as an essential step toward the goal of enabling the individual approval of each of the 12 appropriations bills in Congress, which is what hardline conservatives backed. Johnson underlined the House Republicans' attempts to move away from omnibus governance and stressed the necessity of a brief continuing resolution to fulfill completion deadlines. According to him, the resolution seeks to manage American tax resources more responsibly and to achieve significant policy wins.
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