The Senate on Wednesday passed legislation to extend funding for federal agencies, sending the bill to avert a government shutdown to President Biden’s desk just days before the weekend deadline.
The bill, which passed by an 87-11 vote, represents a marked de-escalation between congressional Democrats and new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.). Without the new spending measure, called a continuing resolution or CR, the government would have shut down just after midnight Saturday, forcing federal workers — including military members and airport security agents — to work without pay or go on furlough on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.
“I have good news for the American people: This Friday night, there will be no government shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor Wednesday evening. “Because of bipartisan cooperation, we are keeping the government open.”
The legislation finances the government at current spending levels and staggers expiration dates for the funding. Roughly 20 percent of the federal government would be financed through Jan. 19 and the remaining 80 percent until Feb. 2.
The structure had drawn ridicule from Senate Democrats almost up until the moment they agreed to vote for it. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), chair of the Appropriations Committee, called it “the craziest, stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” Schumer on Tuesday called the bifurcated deadlines “goofy.”
Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) said he was happy to vote for the resolution if it meant placating the volatile House, which he often describes as the “kids’ table” of Congress.
“If it makes the kids happy, then what the heck?” Rounds said. “It’s Thanksgiving, and you know what? If you want to eat your dessert before you eat your turkey, that’s fine. But it will make it a bigger problem down the road.”
House Democrats claimed the package as a win — and a way to leave Washington early to celebrate the holiday.
“No spending cuts, no right-wing extreme policy changes, no government shutdown, no votes tomorrow,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) told reporters. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
Indeed, the House recessed early Wednesday and won’t return until the week after next.