WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden signed a short-term spending bill to avert a partial government shutdown starting Sunday after a dramatic turn of events Saturday that saw the House quickly pivot to bipartisanship.
Hours before the midnight deadline, the Senate voted 88-9 to clear the House-passed, 48-day funding patch, which generally mirrors the Senate version except for one major omission: There’s no military or economic aid for Ukraine, unlike the Senate bill, which had $6 billion.
Democrats grumbled about that and called on the House to bring a separate Ukraine aid bill to the floor. But ultimately there was no stomach to allow a government shutdown over the lack of Ukraine money, which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said would be forthcoming in a separate package.
“Democrats and Republicans have come to an agreement and the government will remain open. We will have avoided a shutdown,” Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., before the final roll call vote.
The House passed the bill earlier on a 335-91 vote, drawing critical backing from some Democrats who just hours earlier had criticized the bill and how quickly GOP leaders were trying to push it through.
In the Senate, lawmakers all morning had been waiting for the smoke signal from their colleagues across the Capitol. Republicans in the Senate had been stalling for time to see the outcome of the House vote on the package. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said his GOP colleagues would oppose cloture on the Senate version because “there may be a bipartisan agreement coming from the House.”
With that bipartisan agreement en route, a partial government shutdown that many lawmakers thought a fait accompli starting at midnight suddenly seemed likely to be avoided.
“We’re going to finish tonight,” Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, I-Ariz., said after the House vote as she was heading in to the office of Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.D.
A White House official had suggested Biden was likely to sign the measure, pointing out the House-backed continuing resolution would not cut spending, has no restrictive border policies and contains important disaster aid and other provisions. The official also said the White House expects a follow-on Ukraine aid bill to pass in both chambers.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said in a statement Saturday evening. “I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.” Biden otherwise called the stopgap “good news,” but criticized House Republicans for a “manufactured crisis” over funding the government in recent weeks.
©2023 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Visit cqrollcall.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.