The Senate on Thursday passed a two-step stopgap to keep the government funded into March, as lawmakers try to quickly tie up their funding work ahead of a looming shutdown deadline and forecasts of inclement weather Friday.
The Senate voted 77-18 to pass the bill Thursday afternoon, sending the legislation to the House, which is expected to vote later in the day.
As part of the previous stopgap measure passed in November, Congress faces a Jan. 19 deadline to extend funding for agencies that fall under four of the 12 annual funding bills or risk a partial government shutdown.
The latest continuing resolution (CR) pushes the funding deadline for the departments of Agriculture, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Energy, and for the Food and Drug Administration to March 1.
It also pushes the funding deadline for the remaining government agencies, including the departments of Defense, Labor and Education, from Feb. 2 to March 8.
(AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)
Congress employed the two-tier strategy in its last stopgap as Republicans tried to avoid passing a massive omnibus encompassing all 12 annual funding bills, a practice that is common in Washington.
While the bill has faced stiff opposition from the House GOP’s right flank, lawmakers on both sides are optimistic Congress will be able to ward off a funding lapse and buy more time for negotiators to craft larger appropriations bills that can pass the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House.
The House is expected to bring up the CR under suspension of the rules, meaning it will need two-thirds support to pass but will bypass conservatives’ ability to object on a procedural vote.
“Once we put the threat of a shutdown behind us, I hope we continue seeing even more bipartisanship as appropriators complete the very important task of fully funding the government in the coming weeks,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said from the floor ahead of the vote Thursday.
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However, worries are rising about the pace of progress in broader spending talks. Both sides have struggled to find common ground on individual allocations for each of the bills, potentially meaning another rocky start for Congress as it tries to work to meet yet another set of tight self-imposed deadlines.
Spending cardinals said they expected the allocations last week, but some have signaled sticking points in areas like funding for the Department of Homeland Security could be a hurdle in talks.