Senate passes bill to prevent a government shutdown, sending it to Biden
A man walks past the U.S. Capitol building as a government shutdown looms in Washington, September 30, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters
The Senate passed a short-term government funding bill on Thursday night, sending it to President Joe Biden’s desk a day before a Friday deadline to prevent a shutdown.
The president is expected to sign the measure before the end of Friday and prevent a lapse in federal funding. The legislation will keep the government running through Feb. 18.
The Senate passed the bill after Democratic and Republican leaders tamped down efforts within the GOP to delay it. A handful of Republican senators threatened to hold up the measure — and cause at least a temporary shutdown — as they tried to bar a Biden administration Covid-19 vaccine mandate on private employers.
Senate leaders agreed to hold a vote on an amendment to defund the vaccine mandate ahead of the funding bill’s passage. The amendment failed.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to move the bill through the chamber quickly to prevent a crisis. An extended shutdown can lead to furloughs of federal workers and the suspension of certain government services.
Earlier Thursday, the House passed the bill to keep the government running by a 221-212 margin in a nearly party-line vote. Only GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger joined with Democrats to vote for it.
McConnell opposes the push within his caucus to delay the funding bill. On Thursday, he told Fox News he does not think “shutting down the government over this issue is going to get an outcome,” noting the mandate has hit a wall in federal courts.
He added: “Almost no one on either side thinks that’s a good idea.”
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday knocked the GOP holdouts for risking an “unnecessary and dangerous” shutdown.
A few Republicans led by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah led the push around vaccine mandates. They sought a vote on an amendment to bar the requirement.
On Thursday morning, Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” that he wanted to see senators “put their cards on the table” about whether they back the mandate.
The crusade from the GOP holdouts may have little practical effect. A federal appeals court has already temporarily blocked the mandate on employers from going into effect.
Lawmakers will now try to resolve disagreements over funding priorities to approve full-year appropriations legislation before Feb. 18.