- The House and Senate cleared a stopgap funding bill on Thursday.
- Some Senate Republicans sought to nix funding for Biden’s vaccine mandate.
- President Joe Biden must sign the bill before a midnight deadline on Friday to avert a shutdown.
The House and Senate approved a short-term funding bill on Thursday afternoon, narrowly averting a government shutdown.
Earlier on Thursday, the House voted 221-212 with only one Republican crossing party lines to vote with Democrats: Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois.
The Senate voted 69-28 to approve the measure late Thursday, after Sen. Ted Cruz and other GOP senators failed to include an amendment that aimed to bar funding for agencies carrying out President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate for large employers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration hasn’t implemented it yet because it’s held up in court.
Congressional leaders struck a short-term funding deal on Thursday and raced to finalize the details to keep the federal government’s doors open through Feb. 18. The only change to current funding levels in the bill is an additional $US7 ($AU10) billion allocated to resettle Afghan refugees, a Democratic demand.
Marshall and Cruz signaled on Thursday they would be satisfied with a simple majority vote on the measure when the Senate takes it up. “We just want a vote,” Sen. Mike Lee of Utah told Politico.
The threat of a shutdown infuriated Democrats, given many in both parties had assumed it was off the table. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer smacked down Republicans on the Senate floor on Thursday.
“Unfortunately it seems Republican dysfunction could be a roadblock to averting an unnecessary and dangerous shutdown,” he said. “If there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican, anti-vaccine shutdown.”
Biden expressed confidence that lawmakers would ultimately find a way to keep the government open. “I spoke with Mitch McConnell, I spoke with Schumer,” he told reporters. “There is a plan in place unless somebody decides to be totally erratic.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted a shutdown wouldn’t happen. “We’re not going to do that,” he told reporters.
Some House Republicans reiterated their call to shut down the government to strip funding from Biden’s vaccine mandate. “Do not pass this CR,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said on the House floor. “Shut it down.”