by Kevin Freaking and Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap spending bill that avoids a short-term shutdown and funds the federal government until Feb. 18, when leaders averted a partisan standoff over a federal vaccine mandate. The measure now goes to President Joe Biden to sign into law.
Earlier in the day, congressional leaders announced they had finally reached an agreement to run the government for 11 more weeks, generally at current spending levels, while providing $7 in aid to evacuate Afghanistan. Billions add up.
Once the House voted to approve the measure, senators soon announced a deal that would allow them to vote on it quickly.
“I am glad that in the end, cooler heads prevailed. The government will remain open and I thank the members of this Chamber for walking back from the brink of an avoidable, unnecessary and costly shutdown,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN .why.
The Senate approved the measure by a vote of 69-28.
The Democratic-led House passed the measure by a vote of 221-212. The Republican leadership urged members to vote no; The only GOP vote for the bill came from Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger.
Lawmakers lamented the short-term fixation and blamed the opposition party for the lack of progress on this year’s spending bills. Representative Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the measure would, however, allow talks on a package covering the full budget year through September.
“Make no mistake, a vote against this continuing motion is a vote to shut down the government,” Delaro said during the House debate.
Before the vote, Biden said he had spoken with Senate leaders and played down fears of a shutdown.
“Unless someone decides to be completely unsure, there is a plan and I don’t think it will happen,” Biden said.
Some Republicans opposed to Biden’s vaccine rules wanted Congress to take a tougher stance against mandatory shots for workers in large businesses, even if it meant closing federal offices over the weekend by blocking a request that would put an end to the spending bill. Will expedite the final vote.
This was just the latest example around government funding over the past two decades due to several costly shutdowns and partial shutdowns. The longest shutdown in history happened under President Donald Trump – 35 days in January 2019, when Democrats refused to approve funding for his US-Mexico border wall. Both sides agree that the pauses are irresponsible, yet some time frame passes without a late scramble to avoid them.
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, said Democrats knew last month that many Republicans would use all the tools at their disposal to oppose legislation that allows employers to impose or enforce vaccine mandates. He accused Schumer of not negotiating and ignoring his position.
If the alternative is to “suspend non-essential work” or stand idle while Americans lose their ability to work, “I will stand with American workers every time,” Lee said.
Lee and Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan. wrote an amendment that barred federal dollars from being spent to implement and implement a series of vaccine mandates imposed by the Biden administration. The amendment lost with 48 yes votes and 50 no votes. But getting the vote opened the way for the entire expenditure bill to be taken up immediately.
Lee said millions were being forced to choose between an unwanted medical procedure and losing their jobs.
“Their jobs are being threatened by their own government,” Lee said.
“Let’s give certainty to employers and peace of mind to employees that they will still have jobs this new year,” Marshall urged before the vote.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., countered that the federal government should use every tool to keep Americans safe, and that’s why the Biden administration has taken steps to ask employers to ensure their employees are fully protected. be vaccinated in this manner or test negative before their test. come into sight.
“No one wants to go to work and be worried that they might come to their family home with the deadly virus,” Murray said.
The White House sees vaccination as the fastest way to end a pandemic that has killed more than 780,000 people in the United States and is still evolving, as troubling new cases hit the country on Wednesday. Seen in the first case of the version.
Courts have knocked back against the mandate, including a decision this week that bars a requirement for some health care workers from being enforced.
For some Republicans, fears of court cases and lawmakers about a potentially disruptive shutdown were factors against engaging in a high-stakes shutdown.
“One of the things I’m a little worried about is this: Why would we make ourselves the subject of public attention by creating the specter of a government shutdown?” GOP leader Texas Sen. John Cornyn said.
The administration has rolled out vaccine requirements for several groups of workers, but the effort is facing legal setbacks.
A federal judge this week blocked the administration from enforcing a vaccine mandate on thousands of health care workers in 10 states. Previously, a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the OSHA requirement affecting employers with 100 or more workers.
The administration has also implemented policies that require millions of federal employees and federal contractors, including military servicemen, to be fully vaccinated. Those efforts are also being challenged.
Associated Press polling shows Americans are divided on Biden’s effort to vaccinate workers, with Democrats heavily for it while most Republicans are against it.
Some Republican Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. to vote to reject the administration’s mandate in next week’s congressional review action, which is separate from the funding battle.
Separately, some health care providers opposed the stopgap spending measure. Hospitals say nothing has been done to protect them from the Medicare payment cut scheduled to take effect amid uncertainty about the new Omron version.
Associated Press staff writer Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.