The Senate passed a stopgap bill Thursday evening to extend the federal government’s funding through March 11, narrowly averting a government shutdown set to begin Friday and giving legislators another three weeks to work out a full-year budget.
The continuing resolution to keep the government open passed the Senate 65-27, and will go next to President Joe Biden’s desk.
The bill also passed the House of Representatives 272-162 last week, with 221 Democrats and 51 Republicans voting for approval, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) pledged to pass the resolution “quickly” in the Senate to prevent a “pointless and costly” government shutdown.
Beforehand, the Senate voted on two ultimately unsuccessful amendments by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that sought to withhold federal funding for enforcement of certain vaccine mandates.
An amendment by Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) requiring the federal government to balance its budget in 10 years was also rejected with 47 votes to approve and 45 votes against, falling short of the minimum 60 votes to approve it.
Congress failed to pass a budget for the current fiscal year, forcing lawmakers to pass a series of temporary measures to avoid a government shutdown. If Congress fails to pass a full budget for the rest of the year, Democrats and President Joe Biden could opt for a year-long stopgap funding measure to further avert a government shutdown. Democrats—who control the House and Senate by razor-thin margins—are juggling budget-related measures with Biden’s roughly $1.8 trillion Build Back Better Act, which was passed by the House in November but is stalled in the Senate due to opposition from moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).
Voting was preceded by a boisterous exchange between Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Senate’s most senior member, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Rubio had spent several minutes promoting his Cutting Rampant Access to Crack Kits (CRACK) Act, which would prohibit the federal government from directly or indirectly purchasing, supplying or distributing crack pipes or similar paraphernalia. The Department of Health and Human Services previously announced some of its grant funding for the 2022 fiscal year will go toward “safe smoking kits/supplies,” which Rubio and some conservative news outlets characterized as including meth and crack pipes, a claim HHS officials say is false. Leahy called the matter a non-issue and accused Rubio of emboldening Russia through what Leahy characterized as a public show of disunity and pointless conflict.
“House Passes Short-Term Funding Bill To Prevent Government Shutdown Next Week” (Forbes)