Samuel Case, FISM News
Both houses of Congress passed a continuing resolution on Thursday to keep the government funded through mid-February, averting a government shutdown that would have begun Friday at midnight.
The bill passed through the House along party lines, 221-212, with only one Republican vote. Meanwhile the margin was much larger in the Senate, passing 69-28 only hours after it passed in the House.
“I am glad that in the end, cooler heads prevailed. The government will stay open and I thank the members of this chamber for walking us back from the brink from an avoidable, needless and costly shutdown,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Some Republican senators, such as Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, and Roger Marshall, had hoped to use the threat of shutdown as a bargaining chip to get Democrats to relent on federal vaccine mandates. The conservatives introduced an amendment to the resolution to defund mandate enforcement tools, but it was struck down 50-48.
Cruz blasted the mandates on Thursday, telling reporters, “We have seen in the course of this pandemic Democrats being very comfortable with being petty tyrants and decreeing that you must obey their medical mandates.”
At the same time the House Freedom Caucus wrote a letter to Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, requesting him to hold up the stop gap bill over the vaccine mandate.
We therefore write to request that you use all procedural tools at your disposal to deny timely passage of the CR unless it prohibits funding – in all respects – for the vaccine mandates and enforcement thereof.
McConnell, however, warned that shutting down the government over vaccines would “only create chaos and uncertainty,” and rather insisted “we’re not going to shut the government down.”
The newly passed stopgap measure is intended to provide Democrats and Republicans enough time to debate appropriations bills for discretionary federal programs for fiscal year 2022, which began last month. There are more than a dozen appropriations bills on the docket which could run the cost of $1.5 trillion.