Last Thursday night, Congress Thursday passed a short-term government spending bill. The legislation is now headed to the desk of President Joe Biden for his signature. The last-second approval will now prevent a looming government shutdown this Friday.
Senate Approves Spending Bill 69-28
Earlier, the US Senate voted 69-28 to advance the spending bill. The measure will fund government operations until February 18. Hours before the Senate vote, the House also approved the measure.
They voted 221-212 in a highly partisan vote. Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) was the lone Republican to join the Democrats. In contrast, the Senate vote was more bipartisan. 19 GOP senators supported the measure.
Earlier, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CN), announced a deal. She said House Democrats reached an agreement with Republican negotiators.
She said the bill has “virtually no changes to existing funding or policy”. However, it still includes $7 billion for Afghanistan evacuees. The agreement will allow lawmakers to craft a longer-term deal for next year.
Cooler Heads Prevailed In Spending Bill Vote
The alternative outcome will prove messier, as it entails a government shutdown. Some Republicans were openly advocating to do so to teach Democrats a lesson.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) hailed the cooperation of both parties. He said that’s he glad that “cooler heads prevailed,” which kept the government open. Schumer thanked the Senators for helping avoid “an avoidable, needless and costly shutdown.”
Meanwhile, Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT), heaved a sigh of relief. He made it clear that lawmakers still have a lot of work to do to ensure government funding for the rest of 2022.
“Further refusal to meet at the negotiating table will only undermine national security, our ability to invest in American families, and our capability to respond to the coronavirus and its emerging variants,” said Leahy
Conservatives Pushing For Shutdown
However, the behind-the-scenes movements weren’t as cooperative as DeLauro made it seem. While both parties said they don’t want the government to shut down due to a lack of funding.
In the previous days, conservative Republicans said they won’t sign on to the bill to protest Biden’s draconian vaccine mandates.
This includes orders to require vaccinations for employees of companies with more than 100 workers.
Lawmakers including Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-GA) advocated for a government shutdown. If nothing else, a shutdown can prevent the federal government from enforcing rules.
Meanwhile, the White House called for quick approval for its stopgap budget bill. The federal government said that Congress should spend the next few weeks finishing negotiations on appropriations and keep the government running smoothly next year.
Republicans Want Vaccine Mandates Out
The Senate also had its share of roadblocks, The triumvirate of Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cuz (R-TX), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) wanted vaccine mandates for workers suspended in exchange for their support.
Eventually, the proposal by Marshall ended up in a Democrat partisan vote, 50-48. Separately, the conservative House Freedom Caucus wrote a letter to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (r-KY). They asked McConnell to slow down the Senate vote to push back against vaccine mandates.
Conversely, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) clapped back at Republicans for tying up the Spending Bill with vaccine mandates. She called the blocking efforts “a double, a double sense of irresponsibility” by Republicans.
“First of all, they shut down the government, and then they shut down science. This is so silly that we have people [who] are anti-science, anti-vaccination, saying they’re going to shut down the government over that,” she fumed.
Watch the MSNBC news video reporting that Congress approves spending bill, avoids shutdown:
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