President Joe Biden signed a bill on Saturday to extend government funding for 45 days, narrowly avoiding a looming federal shutdown. The bill passed with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and brought relief to millions of Americans who rely on government services. However, it also sparked controversy due to the omission of Ukraine funding, leaving lawmakers divided.
Bipartisan Support in Congress
President Biden praised Congress for their bipartisan effort in passing the funding bill. He acknowledged the importance of preventing a government shutdown and the potential harm it could have inflicted on hardworking Americans.
“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” Biden said in a statement.
However, Biden also made it clear he feels this shutdown should never have been so close. He said, “This is good news for the American people. But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place.”
The Final Votes
The Senate’s overwhelming bipartisan vote of 88 to 9 and the House’s 335 to 91 bipartisan approval signaled unity in preventing a crisis. However, it is worth noting that the 9 Senate votes against the bill came from Republicans, as well as the majority of votes against the bill in the House.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer emphasized that the cooperation between Democrats and Republicans was crucial in pushing the House to act swiftly.
The bill extends government funding until November 17 and allocates $16 billion for disaster aid, addressing immediate needs.
Schumer said after the vote, “It’s been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief – there will be no shutdown,” and “Our bipartisanship made this possible and showed the House that they had to act.”
Omission of Ukraine Funding
One point of contention was the need for additional funding for Ukraine in the bill. President Biden assured that a supplemental appropriations bill for Ukraine would be addressed separately to ensure uninterrupted American support.
Biden said, “We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” and “I fully expect the speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”
Avoiding a Shutdown
Speaker Kevin McCarthy introduced the stopgap bill under suspension of the rules, requiring two-thirds support in the House. Although House Democrats criticized the lack of Ukraine funding, they ultimately backed the bill, avoiding a government shutdown.
The House initially failed to pass McCarthy’s initial stopgap bill, which included a one-month extension with spending cuts. Hard-right Republicans insisted on opposing a continuing resolution, raising concerns about a potential government shutdown.
Threats to McCarthy’s speakership loomed, but he continued forward in hopes of avoiding the shutdown. After the vote, McCarthy told reporters, “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 White House had warned that a government shutdown would have dire consequences, impacting hundreds of thousands of government workers who would go without pay.
It would also jeopardize access to vital nutritional programs and delay essential disaster relief projects, underscoring the urgency of the situation.
The Senate’s debate on the bill highlighted lawmakers’ frustration over the absence of Ukraine aid. Despite the anger and delays caused by this issue, the senators eventually agreed to move forward with the vote.
A Short Stall
Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet’s insistence on a vote for supplemental aid to Ukraine temporarily stalled proceedings but resulted in commitments from Senate leaders to address Ukraine aid separately.
After the vote, Rep. Matt Gaetz, who had previously threatened McCarthy with a motion the end his leadership, attempted to speak before the floor, but McCarthy chose not to recognize him before using his gavel to conclude the meeting.
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