The United States House on Saturday passed a bill to extend government funding for 45 days, sending the legislation to the Senate with just hours left to avert a federal shutdown.
Unless U.S. President Joe Biden signs a funding bill before midnight, the government will shut down, according to Guardian.
The bill passed the House in an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 335 to 91, with 209 Democrats joining 126 Republicans in supporting the legislation. Ninety Republicans opposed the bill.
The bill, unveiled by the House Republican speaker, Kevin McCarthy, just hours before the final vote – would extend funding through 17 November and allocate $16bn for disaster aid. It, however, does not include additional funding for Ukraine, which has become a source of outrage among hard-right lawmakers.
McCarthy introduced the bill under suspension of the rules, meaning he needed the support of two-thirds of House members to advance the proposal. Although Democrats criticized the bill’s lack of Ukraine funding, they ultimately provided McCarthy with the support needed to get the legislation across the finish line.
The publication reported that speaking after the vote, McCarthy expressed disappointment that a large share of his conference opposed the bill, but he said the intransigence displayed by hard-right Republicans left him with no other option.
He said, “It is very clear that I tried every possible way, listening to every single person in the conference.
“If you have members in your conference that won’t let you vote for appropriation bills, [don’t] want an omnibus and won’t vote for a stopgap measure, so the only answer is to shut down and not pay our troops: I don’t want to be a part of that team.”
The House Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries, celebrated the bill’s passage, saying: “[‘Make America Great Again’] Republicans have surrendered. All extreme rightwing policies have been removed from the House spending bill. The American people have won.”
Prior to the House vote, the Senate had planned to hold a vote at 1pm ET on a separate stopgap spending bill, which would also keep the government open until 17 November and provide some funding for Ukraine’s war efforts as well as disaster relief aid.
But the Senate vote was stalled after Republicans said they wanted to wait to see whether the House would be able to pass McCarthy’s proposal before the midnight deadline. In light of the movement in the House, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, said he would not support advancing the Senate bill for the time being.
McConnell said, “It looks like there may be a bipartisan agreement coming from the House.
“Under these circumstances, I’m recommending a no vote, even though I very much want to avoid a government shutdown.”
Now that the House has passed McCarthy’s bill, all attention turns to the Senate. Although Senate Democrats have voiced displeasure about approving a bill that does not include Ukraine funding, the House bill currently represents their only option to prevent a shutdown. Because of procedural hurdles, the Senate cannot hold a final vote on its own bill until Sunday at the earliest, when a shutdown would have already started.
The rare weekend session came one day after the House failed to pass McCarthy’s initial stopgap bill, which would have extended government funding for another month while enacting steep spending cuts on most federal agencies.
McCarthy’s proposal was rejected by 21 House Republicans, as hard-right members continued to insist they would not support a continuing resolution. Hard-right Republicans threatened to oust the speaker if he teamed up with Democrats to keep the government open, a viable threat when it only takes one member to introduce a motion to vacate the chair. Despite the criticism from his hard-right colleagues, McCarthy downplayed threats to his speakership on Saturday.
“If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” McCarthy told reporters.
“There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what is best for this country.”
As lawmakers made progress in their efforts to extend funding, the federal government was bracing for the possibility of the first shutdown in nearly five years. The White House has warned that a shutdown would force hundreds of thousands of government workers to go without pay, jeopardize access to vital nutritional programs and delay disaster relief projects.
“Extreme House Republicans are solely – solely – to blame for marching us toward a shutdown. That is what we’re seeing right now,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, said on Friday.
Senator John Fetterman, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, similarly blamed Republicans for a potential shutdown – although he used more colorful language to describe his congressional colleagues.
“The damage to our nation’s reputation and critical programming, and chaos for America’s families is because of a small group of [Republican] peckerheads in the House,” Fetterman said on Saturday. “This national upheaval is inflicted by choice over nothing except Fox News face time and tributes to the lunatic fringe from their district.”