Government shutdown averted for now as Congress approves 45-day funding bridge

The U.S. Senate on Saturday night, with mere hours left before a midnight deadline for a federal government shutdown, voted to advance a short-term stopgap funding measure.

The 45-day continuing resolution, which funds the government at existing 2023 levels, includes disaster relief funds but no Ukraine aid. A debate over continued help for Ukraine after Russia’s illegal invasion is what pushed the Senate vote so close to the deadline. The Senate approved the temporary funding by a vote of 88 to 9, exceeding the necessary 60 votes.

Earlier Saturday, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican, pushed the 45-day funding bill through his chamber. But he may have put his future leadership role again in jeopardy as his far-right flank had spoken out against a short-term solution to avoid the shutdown.

Politico, writing Saturday, had suggested that the bipartisan nature of the House’s passage, by a 335-91 vote, made Senate approval more likely, a last-minute shift that surprised much of Washington’s Capitol Hill watchers.

Saturday’s passage in the Senate ended a weeks-long House debate over government funding that appeared to be headed toward a shutdown. The Senate eventually dropped its own stopgap bill to pass the House version that was introduced only Saturday morning.

House Republicans had joined with Democrats Friday night to defeat another stopgap version proposed by McCarthy that would have slashed spending and imposed stricter new immigration controls.

Still, enough of a two-party alliance was found Saturday to keep the government open for now.

“We’re going to do our job,” McCarthy said earlier Saturday. “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”

The House is now scheduled to work the first two weeks of October and will take votes between Oct. 2-5 and again Oct. 10-13 as they work on long-term appropriations bills. It had been scheduled time off.

The House approach did leave out the Biden administration’s fresh ask for more aid to Ukraine. It does include disaster relief, the extension of a federal flood insurance program that had implications for real estate closings and it granted vital FAA reauthorization.

“Knowing what transpired through the summer — the disasters in Florida, the horrendous fire in Hawaii and also disasters in California and Vermont — we will put the supplemental portion that the president asks for in disaster there, too,” McCarthy said after a closed-door Republican meeting earlier Saturday.

Sen. J.D. Vance, the Republican of Ohio, told the Washington Post Saturday night after the vote that a fight over aid to Ukraine is still looming. “My sense is my colleagues in the House are much more skeptical of limitless Ukraine funding than my colleagues in the Senate,” Vance told the publication. “And what that means is any Ukraine funding package is going to be dead on arrival in the House.”

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Republican of Florida, who has led a charge against the speaker, had vowed to force a vote on removing McCarthy if a “clean” short-term funding measure came to the floor. He indicated on Saturday, according to Politico, that he would need to consult with his allies about the status of a forced ouster vote if the bridge funding moved forward.

A more permanent funding solution is needed to keep everything from the Social Security COLA boost to national parks, passport issuance and food aid safe. Stock markets
which have risen during recent short-lived government closures, were mindful that this latest shutdown could impede the Federal Reserve’s efforts to fight inflation with its interest-rate lever. What’s more, without a deal in place, federal workers will face furloughs and more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will work without pay.

Read: U.S. government shutdown: Here’s how it could affect you, from food aid to getting your passport

Opinion: Government shutdown looms: Here’s how to help preserve your investment portfolio.  

The Associated Press contributed.

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