October 4, 2021
Congress and President Joe Biden averted a government shutdown just hours before a midnight deadline on Thursday, September 30, with a bill that funds the government through December 3, USA Today reports.
Congress passed the bill earlier in the day and the president signed it into law shortly after, with less than five hours to spare.
The House voted 254-175 to approve the bill that raced through both chambers in a few hours. The Senate had voted earlier 65-35 to approve the measure.
“A shutdown is not anything anyone wants,” Pelosi said.
The vote capped days of drama in Washington, where a lack of action had federal offices preparing contingency and furlough plans for if the government shut down. A deal to keep the government running materialized Wednesday evening after Democrats gave up on an effort to include a provision to raise the nation’s limit on borrowing.
Government funding was set to expire with the end of the fiscal year Thursday at midnight. The temporary extension gives lawmakers more time to approve funding for an entire year of government operations.
Avoiding a shutdown cleared one of four contentious financial hurdles facing Congress in the next few weeks. The House was set to vote Thursday on an infrastructure bill, the timing of which has divided Democrats. Some Democrats argued the infrastructure bill should move in tandem with a $3.5 trillion package of Biden’s social welfare priorities, which is still under negotiation.
“It is a glimmer of hope as we go through many, many other activities,” Schumer said of the funding vote.
A shutdown would have furloughed hundreds of thousands of nonessential federal employees, forcing them to take time off without pay. Essential functions such as the military, law enforcement and air-traffic control would have continued functioning, but discretionary agencies such as the National Park Service would have closed.
A Congressional Budget Office report found a partial shutdown in 2019 cost the economy $11 billion, or more than $31 million per day.
The Senate voted down three Republican amendments to the bill that Democrats said would have scuttled it:
- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkanasas), proposed to modify the eligibility of Afghan refugees for benefits in the United States;
- Senator Roger Marshall (R-Kansas), wanted to prohibit federal funding for COVID-19 vaccine mandates; and
- Senator Mike Braun (R-Indiana) proposed blocking congressional pay after October 1 in any year when the budget and spending bills aren’t approved.
According to USA Today, part of the reason why the spending vote came down to the wire was because Republicans and Democrats feuded over whether to include in the legislation a provision to raise the nation’s limit on borrowing. Congress must raise the country’s borrowing authority by October 18 or risk a default that economists warn would be an economic catastrophe.
Approval of the funding came quickly after Democrats abandoned their attempts to link the funding to an increase or suspension of the debt limit— an action conservatives and liberals agree needs to be taken so the country can continue to pay its bills and avoid worldwide economic chaos.
Republicans have said Democrats will need to raise the debt ceiling on their own. On Monday, Senate Republicans blocked debate on legislation that would have addressed both extending funding for the federal government and raising the debt limit.
“The Democratic majority has begun to the realize that the way forward on basic governing duties matches the road map that Republicans have laid out for months,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky). “We are able to fund the government today because the majority accepted reality.”
Research contact: @USATODAY