Update (12/3/21): The U.S. Senate passed a bill to fund the government through mid-February late Thursday. The 69-28 vote averted the risk of a shutdown and leaves government funding at current levels through Feb. 18.
The Senate acted just hours after the House of Representatives approved the measure, by a vote of 221-212, with the support of only one Republican.
“I am glad that in the end, cooler heads prevailed. The government will stay open and I thank the members of this chamber for walking us back from the brink from an avoidable, needless and costly shutdown,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
Congress faces another urgent deadline later this month. The federal government is approaching its $28.9 trillion borrowing limit. Failure to extend or lift the limit in time could trigger an economically catastrophic default.
Original Story (12/2/21): Two days before the government is set to shut down, the chair of the House Appropriations Committee introduced “the short-term Further Extending Government Funding Act” into Congress Thursday. According to a news release from the committee, the bill “continues government funding through Feb. 18” and “provides $7 billion to continue supporting Afghanistan evacuees after the end of 20 years of war.”
“While I wish the Feb. 18 end date were earlier, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move forward toward a final funding agreement which addresses the needs of the American people,” Committee chair Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) said in the release. Meanwhile, Republicans said more time was needed to settle differences on a spending bill covering the entire budget year through September.
“Republicans should be in favor of [continuing resolutions] until Biden is out of office,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) told Politico. “That would be the proper Republican thing to do and anybody saying otherwise is deeply foolish.”
The House was expected to take up the bill later Thursday. Even if it makes it through, a shutdown could still happen this weekend. At a private lunch meeting Wednesday, Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) tried to make the case to his colleagues to link their support of the bill to their fight against President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. He appears to have backing from a few senators and hard-line House Republicans.
“This is a chance to correct a wrong,” Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said. He undertook a similar effort against vaccine mandates during the last government funding standoff.
While the efforts are emboldened by recent court blocks of the mandates, they also don’t appear to have the backing needed to make a difference. Prominent Republicans including Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) have spoken out against the idea of a shutdown.
“There’s too much chaos in our country right now, too much concern about omicron. The last thing we need is more confusion and fear,” Sen. Romney said. Some Republicans prefer an effort from Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN). Instead of tying the mandate fight to funding the government, Sen. Braun is calling for a vote to reject the mandates in a congressional review action expected next week.