Congress reaches a last-minute funding deal to avoid a federal government shutdown

Congress reaches a last-minute funding deal to avoid a federal government shutdown
  • Just hours before the government was set to shut down, lawmakers reached a funding deal.

  • It includes billions of dollars to fund disaster relief and to keep federal programs afloat.

  • This deal prevents thousands of federal workers from going without pay.

Lawmakers in Congress miraculously managed to avoid a government shutdown, just three hours before the 12:01 a.m. deadline.

On Saturday, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy managed to corral members of his party to vote for government funding legislation that would prevent the government from shutting down after September 30. For the entire past month, lawmakers had been squabbling over their desired approach to fund the government — conservative holdouts were demanding steep spending cuts and strengthened border security in a potential bill, something Democrats in the Senate were sure to oppose.

But it appears enough lawmakers were able to find some common ground… for now.

The stopgap plan, which will fund the government for another 45 days, contained $16 billion dollars for disaster relief and funds to pay service members and keep the Federal Aviation Administration and National Flood Insurance program operational.

Notably, the bill did not contain more funding for Ukraine, a key objection for some Republicans.

"Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans," President Joe Biden said in a statement shared late Saturday evening. "This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people."

The Senate voted 88-9 on the bill, with all "Nos" coming from Republican lawmakers, including Senators Marsha Blackburn, Mike Braun, Ted Cruz, Bill Hagerty, Mike Lee, Roger Marshall, Rand Paul, Eric Schmitt, and JD Vance.

The consequences of a shutdown would have been drastic for thousands of federal workers, along with Americans who rely on a range of federal programs. While Social Security payments would continue to go out, for example, limited staff administering the program would result in delays in getting a new card, along with getting help with overpayment.

While the shutdown has been averted for now, it once again put McCarthy's leadership to the test. GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, for example, said over the past month that McCarthy was risking his leadership spot by choosing to appease Democrats on a government funding bill, and not delivering on all of conservatives' demands.

"The one thing I agree with my Democrat colleagues on is that for the last eight months, this House has been poorly led," Gaetz said on the House floor on Tuesday. "And we own that, and we have to do something about it, and you know what? My Democratic colleagues will have an opportunity to do something about that too, and we will see if they bail out our failed Speaker."

In the lead-up to the bill's passage, Democrats repeatedly blasted Republicans for going back on the budget cut deal they struck to raise the debt ceiling.

"It's time for House Republicans to stop breaking their promise and put their country – and American families and American troops – above selfish, divisive politics," White House deputy press secretary and senior communications adviser Andrew Bates wrote in a Thursday memo.

The House Democratic leaders released a joint statement Saturday before the Senate vote, saying that there is still more work to be done — namely "renewing support" for Ukraine. House Democrats said in the statement that they expect McCarthy to advance a bill to the House floor for an up-or-down vote on Ukraine funding.

Biden signed the stopgap measure late Saturday evening after the Senate vote.

In a statement, Biden reiterated the Democrats' criticism of House Republicans' attempts to add drastic cuts in the spending bill and emphasized support for Ukraine.

"While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support," Biden said. "We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment."

"Keeping the government up and running, funding the government, is one of the basic functions of Congress and they can do it well, they can do it poorly, but to not do it at all is just totally avoidable and totally uncalled for," Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg previously told Insider.

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