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Biden signs last-minute bill to avoid government shutdown

The bill prevents a shutdown by providing temporary funding for the federal government until Nov. 17.
Biden signs last-minute bill to avoid government shutdown
Posted at 9:03 PM, Sep 30, 2023

President Joe Biden has averted a government shutdown by signing the temporary funding bill 35 minutes before a critical midnight deadline when federal agency funding was about to expire. 

Hours before a potential government shutdown, Congress passed the funding bill with bipartisan support.

"I have very good news for the country," Majority Leader of the United States Senate Chuck Schumer said on the floor late Saturday. "Democrats and Republicans have come to an agreement, and the government will remain open. We will have avoided a shutdown. Bipartisanship... has prevailed."

The Senate gave the green light to a short-term funding bill, extending government operations at their current funding levels for an additional 45 days. The Senate vote was 88 to 9, and all nine who voted against the bill were Republicans.

President Biden promptly signed the short-term funding bill, effectively preventing the shutdown.

And while the president agreed that this was good news for Americans, he criticized House Republicans for breaking the budget deal made earlier this year with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

"I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis. For weeks, extreme House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed," President Biden said.

This last-minute bill is intended to prevent a shutdown by providing temporary funding for the federal government until Nov. 17.

However, it's important to note that this bill does not allocate any new funds for the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Following the Senate vote, Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a joint statement, along with key appropriations committee members, stating that while they welcome the agreement, they know that there are issues that they still need to resolve.

"This agreement leaves a number of urgent priorities outstanding. In the coming weeks, we expect the Senate will work to ensure the U.S. government continues to provide critical and sustained security and economic support for Ukraine," the statement read. "We support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty against Putin’s brazen aggression, and we join a strong bipartisan majority of our colleagues in this essential work."

SEE MORE: Read full document: House GOP releases 45-day spending plan

In a separate statement Saturday, House Democratic leadership said they expect McCarthy to schedule a separate vote for a Ukraine aid bill.

"When the House returns, we expect Speaker McCarthy to advance a bill to the House Floor for an up-or-down vote that supports Ukraine, consistent with his commitment to making sure that Vladimir Putin, Russia, and authoritarianism are defeated. We must stand with the Ukrainian people until victory is won," the joint statement read.

The bill received bipartisan approval in the House on Saturday, following rapid changes and McCarthy's shift towards bipartisanship, prioritizing Democratic votes to prevent a government shutdown. Almost all House Democrats backed the bill, except for Congressman Mike Quigley, the sole Democrat voting against it.

But the deal frustrated many far-right conservatives in the House who voted against it. They wanted much deeper cuts.

“Here's the deal: I fought for the speaker. I fought for the gavel. When it comes to appropriations, you better bet I'm going to use my voting card to make sure this place does its job," said Georgia Representative Marjoie Taylor Greene.

The last-minute deal was very different from what Speaker McCarthy initially wanted. For weeks, he demanded changes at the border, including policy changes and possibly restarting construction on President Donald Trump's border wall.

“I tried yesterday with the most conservative stop-gap funding bill you could find that secured our border that cut spending, and I couldn't get 218 Republicans on," McCarthy said.

Had the Senate not approved the bill, a government shutdown loomed at midnight, with far-reaching consequences for millions of federal workers, military personnel nationwide, and certain low-income assistance programs.

Now the question is: Can Speaker McCarthy keep his job after cutting a deal backed by so many Democrats? Remember, under House rules, any one member can file a motion to remove him as speaker. That fight may happen next week.

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