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Key lawmakers reach stopgap spending deal to avert shutdown

Erik Wasson, Bloomberg News on

Published in Political News

House Democrats released a bipartisan short-term spending bill to keep the government open after midnight Friday and plan to put it to a House vote later Thursday.

The bill would fund U.S. government agencies through Feb. 18 and would have to pass both the House and Senate by midnight Friday to avert a shutdown. By financing the government into next year, Democrats hope to free up time in December to pass their separate tax, climate and social spending proposal totaling roughly $2 trillion, in addition to raising the U.S. debt limit.

The stopgap measure 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.

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.

Meeting the fast-approaching end-of-week deadline will require cooperation by Senate Republicans, who have the power to drag out the process.

In a positive sign for efforts to avert a shutdown, Alabama Senator Richard Shelby, the top Appropriations Committee Republican, endorsed the House proposal.

 

“I’m pleased that we have finally reached an agreement on the continuing resolution,” Shelby said in a statement. He’s been pushing to continue current funding through February, longer than Democrats wanted, to give additional time to reach agreement on the 12 annual appropriations bills.

Still lingering as a potential impediment, however, is a threat by a group of conservative Republicans to tie up the vote on a temporary government funding measure over their objections to federal Covid-19 vaccine and testing mandates.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, gave repeated assurances throughout the day Wednesday that negotiations were making progress and a deal was near.

“I think we’re going to be OK,” McConnell told reporters.

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