WASHINGTON – Congress last passed a bill to fund the government through March 11, averting this week’s shutdown and giving lawmakers more time to solidify a deal on the federal government. expenditures for the remainder of the financial year.
The passage of the short-term measure in the Senate comes less than 48 hours before the outgoing government funding expires, as lawmakers rush to leave Washington for a week-long recess. It passed 65 to 27, just over a week later The house approved it.
The bill, which would keep government funding through March 11, is now making its way to President Biden’s desk. He is expected to sign it.
Lawmakers and aides are betting that a three-week extension will provide enough time to finalize a deal on the dozens of bills needed to keep agencies and parts of the federal government open. finance the remainder of the financial year. Four months into the fiscal year, which began in October, lawmakers have yet to reach an agreement, relying instead on a series of stopgap bills that maintain funding levels set in place under the Trump administration.
Senator Patrick J. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said on the Senate floor: “Our government is not on autopilot and American taxpayer dollars should not be spent on outdated priorities. “We have a responsibility to make difficult choices about how to invest in the American people.”
Negotiations over the omnibus package have been largely hampered by an impasse over how the money should be divided, with Democrats forced to prioritize social and domestic programs while they control both chambers of the National Assembly. Assembly and the White House. Republicans, who need to muster the 60 votes needed to pass most legislation, have pushed for equal military spending on those programs.
But senior lawmakers from both parties and chambers last week said they had settled those differences in a draft, without disclosing any details. Lawmakers and aides familiar with the emerging deal have signaled that it will increase both military spending and domestic and social programs. (In his speech, Mr Leahy hailed what he said would be the “biggest increase in pointless programs in four years”, but gave no specifics.)
If they can finalize the details of the deal, the passing spending package will not only allow for increased spending, but will also unlock the funding outlined in the bipartisan infrastructure law and for the first time ever. For more than a decade, the fund has been for individual legislators to channel money directly into specific projects in their states.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, said: “Agencies need certainty, businesses that rely on government for contracts need certainty and men and women are Serving in our military needs certainty.
It is also likely that many or all of the perennial policy provisions, such as The Hyde Revision, which prohibits federal funding of most abortions, would be kept in some form in any such package. Republicans have also warned that those conditions – known as policy adherents – will need to be maintained to ensure that enough of their party will support the legislation.
Because the spending package is one of the few remaining measures that must be passed before the end of this Congress, senior lawmakers are likely to try to attach additional legislation, potentially spending a final agreement.
“Once you start a moving vehicle, a lot of people want to ride it,” said Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.
Among the most obvious candidates is an emergency pandemic aid package, although the White House has yet to make a formal request. The Biden administration told key congressional officials on Tuesday that it may need an additional $30 billion in coronavirus response funds, including to improve testing and vaccinations around the country.
Some Republicans have signaled reluctance to support pandemic spending after Democrats muscle through a $1.9 trillion pandemic aid package in March to their unanimous opposition. In an informal briefing with key congressional officials on Tuesday, Biden administration officials spent an additional $17.9 billion on vaccines and treatments, $4.9 billion on diagnostics, and additional money to combat future variations. , according to a briefed official, who was not authorized to speak publicly, and described the session on the condition of anonymity.
“They haven’t sent us a bailout yet,” Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said Tuesday. “But obviously, we’re going to have to do something.”
Still eight-page bill passed on Thursday, made no mention of additional pandemic aid and had some additions beyond keeping government open. One exception is the provision of new money allocations to address water pollution from fuel leaks from Red Hill ShaftA well operated by the Pentagon on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
Before passing the interim spending bill, lawmakers voted to reject several Republican-proposed amendments, including a measure that could deprive citizens of the mandate to vaccinate, including for employees. federal officials and another measure denying federal funding to schools that require coronavirus vaccinations for students.
The final vote was delayed due to several policy disputes and the senator’s absence, as Democratic leaders scrambled to ensure they had the votes to prevent the amendments from changing the bill. and forced the House to vote again on the measure.
Mr. Leahy, in particular, became visibly frustrated on the floor by the delay, when he blocked an attempt by Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican of Florida, to pass quickly for the first time. federal funding ban from going towards crack cocaine straws and other injecting drug paraphernalia. (Mr Rubio denied that he was trying to slow the passage of the stopgap bill, which has been called a continuation solution.)
“Everybody has the right to give any political opinion to any group they want, but let’s talk about being a US senator,” Mr. Leahy said, banging his fists on his podium.
“Don’t slow things down,” he added. “Let’s vote on the continuation solution. Show America and the rest of the world that we can open up. ”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/17/us/politics/senate-spending-bill-shutdown.html Senate passes 3-week spending bill, preventing government shutdown