U.S. Averts Government Shutdown As Senate Passes Stopgap Spending Bill

In a nighttime session, the U.S. Senate voted 69-28 tonight to pass a stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government solvent through Feb. 18. It also included $7 billion in aid to Afghan evacuees, according to the Washington Post.

The measure was approved by the House earlier in the day and will now go to President Biden for signature. The government’s funding had been set to expire Saturday morning.

Among the sticking points in the Senate had been Biden’s vaccine mandate for large businesses and federal employees. The impasse was breached when a group of Republican Senators agreed to move forward if Democrats would allow the body to take a simple majority vote on an amendment to defund the mandate. The vote moved forward and the amendment was defeated 48-50.

The last time the federal government shut down was in 2018-2019 over funding for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. It was the longest such stretch in U.S. history, at 35 days.

Congress must now find a way to raise the federal debt limit later this month and also engage in long-term fiscal planning for 2022. According to The Hill, the House has passed nine funding bills for next year. The Senate hasn’t taken up a single one.

Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, asked if GOP lawmakers were seeking to pressure Democrats to drop policies they considered non-starters, replied, “That’s our plan.”

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