Senate passes stopgap bill to avoid shutdown … again

by mcardinal

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


Thursday, for the second time in the past five months, the Senate approved a stopgap continuing resolution that will fund the government, at least temporarily, and prevent a shutdown.

The government will now continue to operate until March 11, approximately three weeks. This is the amount of time lawmakers say they need to finalize an omnibus bill that will fully fund the government.

“Like any compromise, I don’t believe that any of us walked away from these negotiations with everything that we wanted, and there is still much work to do,” Sen. Patrich Leahy (D-Vt.), president pro tempore of the Senate, said in a statement. “But this framework sets the stage for us to make significant investments in the American people and communities across our country.  It will provide the biggest increase in non-defense programs in four years.”

Lawmakers faced a Feb. 18 deadline to prevent a government shutdown and did so by a 65-to-27 vote.

At present, the Senate does not yet have a final draft of a bill that would reach the Senate with enough bicameral support to pass, although Leahy said this would be forthcoming.

“We look forward to presenting our final agreement to members to review in the coming weeks,” Leahy said. “By passing this continuing resolution, we can remove the unnecessary threat of yet another government shutdown and allow the Appropriations Committees to complete our work.”

Prior to the passage of Thursday’s resolution, Senators also had the option of passing a yearlong continuing resolution that would have punted the matter of government spending to the end of the fiscal year.  

“[A full-year continuing resolution] is untenable and far too onerous on the American people,” Leahy said. “Our government is not meant to run on autopilot, and American taxpayer dollars should not be spent on outdated priorities.  We have the responsibility to make the hard choices about how to invest in the American people.”

During Thursday night’s session, Republicans attempted to add two mandate-related amendments to the continuing resolution – one aimed at school mandates and the other mandates for healthcare workers. Both measures, and one that would have required a fully balanced budget, failed.

“It’s time to stop the petty tyrants imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates on families across the country,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who proposed one of the two failed amendments, said in a statement prior to the vote. “No child should be denied an education because of his or her personal medical choice. Schools shouldn’t get federal taxpayer dollars to trample on our constitutional liberties. It’s time for all of us to take a stand. Are you with parents and kids, or power-hungry politicians?”

As reported in more detail on The Hill, the continuing resolution was the result of quite a hectic period of haggling as numerous Senators threatened to delay passage of the bill, which was also in peril because of the absence of five senators, three Democrats and two Republicans.