US Senate set to vote on government funding bill on Thursday, avoiding risk of shutdown

WASHINGTON, Dec.2 (Reuters) – The US Senate is set to vote Thursday night to fund the government until mid-February, eliminating the risk of a partial shutdown, the majority leader told reporters Democrat Chuck Schumer.

The vote would come hours after the House of Representatives voted 221-212 to approve the interim financing bill, which runs until February 18. Only one Republican supported the measure.

“It looks like we’re going to pass the CR tonight and make sure the government stays open,” Schumer said Thursday.

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He did not mention the proposal of a small group of die-hard Republican senators to fund President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers. It was not clear whether those Republicans had the votes to pass their proposal in the tightly Democratic-controlled chamber.

Republican Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Roger Marshall had earlier raised the possibility of the government partially shutting down over the weekend as the Senate slowly moves towards a possible passage.

Democrats hold 50 seats in the 100-seat Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris eligible to vote as a tiebreaker.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must quell rebellion within his caucus for the government to continue to function, reiterated earlier Thursday that there would be no shutdown.

But he did not respond when asked if the Republicans would agree to act quickly by agreeing to circumvent heavy Senate legislative rules.

“We have to pass it and that is what we will strive to do,” the top Republican in the Senate told reporters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, lambasted the Republican move, saying it demonstrated “irresponsibility” that Congress would reject.

The temporary spending bill would maintain funding for federal government operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid concerns about a further increase in cases and the arrival of the Omicron variant in the United States.

Emergency legislation is needed because Congress has yet to pass the 12 annual appropriation bills funding government operations for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.

A partial government shutdown would create political embarrassment for both parties, but especially for Biden’s Democrats, who tightly control both houses of Congress.


Congress faces another urgent deadline just after this one. The federal government is approaching its borrowing limit of $ 28.9 trillion, which the Treasury Department estimated it could reach by December 15. Failure to extend or lift the time limit could trigger an economically catastrophic default.

The fact that the temporary spending bill extends funding until February suggests a Republicans victory in closed-door negotiations. Democrats had been pushing for a measure that would last until the end of January, while Republicans demanded a longer deadline leaving spending at levels agreed when Republican Donald Trump was president.

“While I wish it had been earlier, this agreement allows the crediting process to move forward to a final funding agreement that meets the needs of the American people,” said the chair of the credit committee. of the House, Rosa DeLauro, in a statement announcing the agreement.

But she said Democrats prevailed by including a $ 7 billion provision for evacuees from Afghanistan.

Once enacted, the interim funding measure would give Democrats and Republicans nearly 12 weeks to resolve their differences over annual appropriation bills totaling about $ 1.5 trillion that fund “discretionary” federal programs for that fiscal year. These bills do not include mandatory funding for programs such as the Social Security pension plan that are renewed automatically.

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Reporting by Doina Chiacu, David Morgan, Susan Cornwell and Richard Cowan; Additional reports by Moira Warburton and Susan Heavey; Editing by Scott Malone, Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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