Senate passes funding bill to avoid government shutdown

The Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap spending bill expected to see the government funded into March and avoid a looming shutdown.

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The bill passed 77-18 days before the deadline to avoid a shuttering of some government services, with all “no” votes coming from Republicans, Reuters reported.

The bill needed 60 votes to move on to the House.

Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said his colleagues on both sides of the aisle worked into the evening Wednesday to reach an agreement.

“We have good news for America. There will not be a shutdown on Friday,” he said. “Because both sides have worked together, the government will stay open, services will not be disrupted, we will avoid a needless disaster.”

He thanked his colleagues for their work.

“Keeping the government open wasn’t a given,” he said. “We stayed up negotiating amendments and timing, but thanks to both sides working together, the Senate is passing the (continuing resolution) with enough time for the House to take it up today and send it to the president’s desk well before Friday’s deadline.”

The bill was expected to face a more contentious vote before passing the House later Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported. Republican hard-liners have vocally opposed passing another continuing resolution, which keeps the prior year’s spending levels and priorities in place, according to the newspaper.

If passed and signed by President Joe Biden as anticipated, it will extend current federal spending until early March, according to The Associated Press.

If the bill is not passed, money to fund about 20% of the government — including the Transportation Department and some veterans’ assistance and food and drug safety programs — is set to expire just after midnight on Saturday morning, The Washington Post reported. Funds including those for the Defense and State departments will expire on Feb. 2 unless the bill is passed, according to the newspaper.

The short-term package is aimed at giving lawmakers time to continue negotiations over annual funding for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1, Bloomberg News reported. Democratic and Republican leaders have agreed to a $1.66 trillion spending cap for the year but are still working out how to distribute the funds, according to the news agency.

The federal government has been operating on a series of continuing resolutions since Oct. 1.

Passage of the first continuing resolution in the current fiscal year, which came as a result of a deal between Democrats and Republicans, led to the ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in October.

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