Senate Lines Up Vote on Stopgap to Avert Government Shutdown (2)

Dec. 3, 2021, 2:07 AM

The Senate is set to vote Thursday night on a stopgap bill to keep the government funded through mid-February, just hours after the House passed the legislation.

Senate leaders maneuvered to avert a delay which could have triggered a government shutdown by allowing a vote demanded by a group of Republicans on an amendment to block federal vaccine mandates. That measure failed on a 48-50 vote, immediately clearing the way for action on the temporary funding bill.

“With this agreement, there will be no government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Passage by the Senate would send the legislation to President Joe Biden for his signature, well before the midnight Friday deadline when the current funding for the government expires.

A group of Republican lawmakers led by Senator Roger Marshall of Kansas sought a simple-majority vote on an amendment that would prohibit funding for the coronavirus vaccine and testing mandates imposed by the Biden administration.

Marshall acknowledged before the vote it would probably fail.

“It looks really tough for us,” he said.

Earlier: House Passes Stopgap to Fund Government; Senate Action in Limbo

Senator Mike Lee of Utah, one of the Republicans who oppose the vaccine mandates, argued they should be blocked because they infringe on individual freedom and threaten people’s livelihoods.

“It’s wrong,” he said. “You don’t tell someone that if they don’t do exactly what you want them to do, they will lose their job.”

Senator Mike Braun, an Indiana Republican, said he expects the stopgap to pass.

GOP Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Bill Hagerty of Tennessee were not present. Thune was attending his father-in-law’s funeral and Hagerty went to see his son, a high school senior, play in a state championship football game, according to their offices.

The funding extension through Feb. 18 puts agencies on autopilot, freezing in place program funding levels and forbidding new contracts, with few exceptions, one of which being $7 billion in funding to aid Afghan evacuees.

Republicans and Democrats showed no signs of being able to resolve the larger impasse blocking full year appropriations bills.

House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro called on Republicans to make a full-year funding counteroffer soon to finish work on appropriations bills.

“Let me be clear: Working families, small businesses, veterans, and our military need the certainty that comes with passing omnibus funding legislation instead of short-term funding patches,” DeLauro said on the House floor.

The stopgap does not address automatic cuts to Medicare and other programs slated for January under the so-called Paygo law, despite Democratic efforts to include the provision.

(Updates with amendment vote starting in second paragraph)

--With assistance from Jack Fitzpatrick, Steven T. Dennis and Billy House.

To contact the reporters on this story:
Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net;
Laura Litvan in Washington at llitvan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net

John Harney

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

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