House, Senate pass bill to keep government open; Biden signs measure

WASHINGTON — Congress averted a government shutdown on Saturday, as the House passed a last-ditch funding measure that was later approved by the Senate. The continuing resolution, which will keep the government open for another 45 days, had bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. President Joe Biden signed the measure late Saturday.

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Biden signs funding bill

Update 11:26 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: President Joe Biden signed a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown, less than two hours before a 12:01 a.m. EDT deadline on Sunday, the White House said in a statement.

The legislation keeps the government funded until Nov. 17.

“I just signed a law to keep the government open for 47 days. There’s plenty of time to pass Government funding bills for the next fiscal year, and I strongly urge Congress to get to work right away,” Biden posted on X, formerly known as Twitter. “The American people expect their government to work.”

Biden applauds vote, chides Congress

Update 9:23 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: President Joe Biden lauded Congress for passing the extended funding bill to keep the government open, but chided legislators for the near-crisis.

“Tonight, Congress voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” Biden said in a statement. “This is good news, but I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place.”

Biden repeated his support for Ukraine and urged Congress to pass separate funding to help the eastern European nation in its war against Russia.

“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.”

Senate approves spending bill; shutdown averted

Update 9:03 p.m. EDT Sept. 30: The U.S. Senate passed the House’s continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown on Saturday night. The Senate vote was 88-9 in favor of H.R. 5860.

The measure’s passage keeps the government open through Nov 17.

Earlier, the bill passed the House by a 335-91 margin and included overwhelming support by House Democrats. Republicans voted 126-90 to pass the measure, while Democrats approved the bill by a 209-1 margin. Seven members of the House did not vote.

“The American people can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before Saturday night’s vote. “Leader (Mitch) McConnell and I have agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine. We support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty against Putin’s aggression.”

“With just a few hours to spare, the Senate is now in a position to prevent a harmful and unnecessary government shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Passing this measure, keeping the lights on, will allow us to return our attention to making headway on full-year appropriations our colleagues have been working on, literally for months, and will give us the flexibility to meet urgent supplemental priorities both at home and abroad.”

The measure is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden.

All nine dissenting votes in the Senate were cast by Republicans: Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee; Mike Braun, Indiana, Ted Cruz, Texas; Bill Hagerty, Tennessee; Mike Lee, Utah; Roger Marshall, Kansas; Rand Paul, Kentucky; Eric Schmitt, Missouri; and JD Vance, Ohio.

Had the measure not passed by 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday, the government would have been shuttered for the 22nd time since 1976.

The bill omitted aid to Ukraine but increased federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, according to The Associated Press. There was also an extension of reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, The Washington Post reported.

Original report: The only House Democrat to vote against was Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, according to CNN.

If the bill passes in the Senate, then funding will be extended through Nov. 17. After Saturday’s vote, the House adjourned until Monday.

The bill omits aid to Ukraine but increased federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, according to The Associated Press. There was also an extension of reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration, The Washington Post reported.

If the Senate rejects the House bill and does not have a deal in place to extend funding by 12:01 a.m. EDT on Sunday, the federal government will experience its 22nd shutdown or funding gap since 1976.

H.R. 5860, a 71-page bill, came to the floor under suspension of the rules, which meant that it needed a two-thirds vote in the House to pass. Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., needed support from Democrats to pass the resolution, and they gave it to the embattled speaker.

An attempt by Democrats to adjourn to further study the bill failed by a 427-0 vote early Saturday afternoon. Later, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., spoke in the House and criticized Republicans for “dropping a bill on us at the eleventh hour.”

“I rise today to have a conversation with the American people,” Jeffries said. “So strap in, because this may take a little while.”

Because of the bipartisan deal, McCarthy’s speakership could be in jeopardy, CNN reported. Far-right members of the Republican caucus, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., have said that such a move would trigger a motion to vacate the chair and force a vote to oust the Speaker.

“If I have to risk my job for standing up for the American public, I will do that,” McCarthy said. “If someone wants to remove me, then so be it.”

“I would say it’s on some tenuous ground,” Gaetz told reporters on Saturday, according to CNN.

Hours before the shutdown, the House had announced plans on Saturday to vote on a 45-day short-term spending bill, called a continuing resolution, which would include natural disaster aid that the White House sought, The Washington Post reported. That would keep the government open through Nov. 17.

McCarthy met with House Republicans for a private meeting at the Capitol on Saturday morning, the Times reported.

It did not include billions of dollars that President Joe Biden had sought, House Rules Chairman Tom Cole, R-Okla., told reporters.

“Let’s not overcomplicate the matter,” Cole said before the vote. “Let’s keep the government open.”

McCarthy attempted to break the deadlock on Friday afternoon but was voted down by a 232-210 margin, The New York Times reported. Twenty-one Republicans defected to vote with Democrats to defeat Friday’s measure.

Friday’s proposal sought to keep the government open for 30 days, with up to 29% of cuts to government programs, according to the newspaper. The cuts did not include areas like veterans, homeland security or natural disaster response.

Jeffries in a speech in the House on Saturday, called Friday’s proposal “draconian” and said that Saturday’s measure was similar in its scope.

The proposal did direct the secretary of homeland security to resume “all activities related to the construction of the border wall” at the southern border that were in place under former President Donald Trump, the Times reported.

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