Senate passes stopgap bill to avert government shutdown

The Senate on Wednesday passed a stopgap bill to keep the government open, averting a shutdown for now while setting up a contentious fight over funding in the new year.

The bill was approved by the House on Tuesday and will now be sent to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. Government funding is currently set to expire at the end of the week on Friday, November 17. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 87 to 11.

Lawmakers are still under pressure to try to negotiate and pass full-year spending bills in just over two months as the stopgap bill creates two new shutdown deadlines in January and February, an unusual two-step approach to funding the government.

Major partisan divisions, including demands from House conservatives for deep spending cuts that Democrats reject as a non-starter, will make that effort fraught and complicated. Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson will face another major leadership test as lawmakers navigate that challenge.

The bill would extend funding until January 19 for priorities including military construction, veterans’ affairs, transportation, housing and the Energy Department. The rest of the government – anything not covered by the first step – would be funded until February 2. The proposal does not include additional aid for Israel or Ukraine.

Johnson has argued that his plan would prevent Congress from passing a massive spending bill in December – a scenario that has played out many times before when lawmakers have faced a deadline right before the winter holidays.

But the short-term funding plan sparked backlash from House conservatives who were upset that it did not include deep spending cuts that they have demanded. As a result, the bill required Democratic support to pass the House.

In the end, more House Democrats supported the measure than Republicans – a warning sign for Johnson.

Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy was ousted after putting a stopgap bill on the House floor at the end of September. The move averted a shutdown but sparked a conservative revolt that led to McCarthy’s removal as speaker.

Many House Republicans have signaled that Johnson will be spared the same fate as McCarthy, arguing that he has not been on the job long and inherited problems that were not of his own making. But it remains to be seen how long the honeymoon period will last for the new speaker as conservative hardliners continue to press for their demands ahead of the broader funding fight.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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