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Monday, January 24, 2022

Shutdown risk diminishes as Senate seeks funding vote


WASHINGTON (AP) – The risk of a short-term government shutdown appears to have eased late Thursday as the Senate pushed for final approval of a bill that would fund the government by February 18, sending the measure to President Joe Biden for signature. …

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that “looks good” that senators will pass legislation and “make sure the government remains open.”

The measure was delayed for several days, and it was not immediately clear how the Senate would resolve the standoff with some conservative Republicans who threatened to suspend the bill in hopes of sparking a debate over Biden’s requirements for a COVID-19 vaccine. Some GOP senators said they would not support a fast-track vote on spending measures without taking a vote that would interfere with funding the vaccine mandate for major employers.

But the vote was expected later Thursday.

A funding agreement between congressional leaders, announced earlier in the day, will allow the government to operate for an additional 11 weeks, usually at current spending levels, as well as add $ 7 billion to aid evacuees from Afghanistan.

The House, headed by Democrats, made the decision on Thursday with 221-212 votes. Republican leadership urged members to vote against; The only GOP vote on the bill came from Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

In the House of Representatives, lawmakers mourned a short-term fix and blamed the opposing party for not making progress on spending bills this year. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the move would nevertheless allow negotiations on a package covering the entire fiscal year through September.

“Make no mistake, voting against this ongoing resolution is a vote to close the government,” DeLauro said during a House debate.

Before the House of Representatives went into action, Biden said he spoke with Senate leaders and did not fear closure.

“There is a plan if someone doesn’t decide to act in a totally unpredictable way, and I don’t think that will happen,” Biden said.

A House vote sent the measure to the Senate. Conservative Republicans opposing Biden’s vaccine rules want Congress to take a tough stance against sanctioned vaccinations for workers at large factories, even if that means closing federal offices over the weekend, blocking a request that will expedite the final vote on the spending bill.

This was just the latest example of balancing government funding that has resulted in several costly shutdowns and partial closings over the past two decades. The longest stop in history came under President Donald Trump – 35 days until January 2019, when Democrats refused to approve money to build his border wall between the United States and Mexico. Both sides agree that stoppages are irresponsible, but few deadlines go by without a belated struggle to avoid them.

Republicans in the House of Representatives said during a debate that they made it clear over the summer that they would not support spending bills that include “irresponsible spending increases and extreme policies.”

“Unfortunately, this is where we ended up,” said Rep. Kay Granger, Texas.

But Democrats accused Republicans of rooting for the closure, citing remarks from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, a Republican from Georgia, who at one point in the debate said, “Don’t go CR. Close it. “

The Democrats were able to use their majority to pay the bill. They face a bigger challenge in the 50-50 Senate, where objections from just one senator could slow the final vote past midnight Friday.

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Senator Mike Lee of Utah said last month Democrats knew several Republicans would use whatever means at their disposal to oppose legislation that funds or enforces employer vaccination orders. He accused Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, of not negotiating and ignoring their position.

If the choice is between “suspending non-essential functions,” or doing nothing when Americans lose the ability to work, “I will always support American workers,” Lee said.

GOP senators said the idea is to vote to seize money that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration will use to meet the requirement that private employers with 100 or more workers provide vaccinations or regular testing.

“This is a chance to correct the mistake,” said Senator Roger Marshall, a Republican of Canada, who made a similar effort against vaccination demands during the latest public funding standoff.

Schumer said early Thursday morning that “this deal was not easy to reach,” and while most Republicans are reluctant to stop, “several individual Republican senators seem determined to derail this important law due to their opposition to the presidential vaccine recommendations. saving lives ”.

“Let’s be clear: if there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican anti-vaccination shutdown,” Schumer said.

The White House sees vaccinations as the fastest way to end the pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 780,000 people in the United States and continues to evolve, as seen on Wednesday with the first case of an alarming new variant identified in the country.

Courts have rejected mandates, including a ruling this week banning enforcement for some medical professionals.

For some Republicans, lawsuits and legislators’ concerns about a potentially devastating shutdown are factors against participating in the high-stakes shutdown.

“One of the things that bothers me a little is why should we make ourselves the object of public attention by creating the specter of a government shutdown?” said Texas Senator John Cornin, leader of the GOP.

“There is too much chaos in our country now, too much anxiety about the omicron. The last thing we need is more confusion and fear, ”said Senator Mitt Romney, Rhode Utah.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky, reiterated that there would be no stoppage.

“We’re not going to do that,” he said Thursday.

The administration has pushed for vaccine requirements for several groups of workers, but these efforts are encountering legislative obstacles.

This week, a federal judge barred the administration from banning the vaccination of thousands of healthcare workers in 10 states. Earlier, a federal appeals court temporarily overturned OSHA’s requirement for employers with 100 or more employees.

The administration has also put in place a policy requiring the complete vaccination of millions of federal employees and federal contractors, including military personnel. These efforts are also under threat.

An Associated Press poll shows Americans are divided over Biden’s efforts to vaccinate workers, with the vast majority of Democrats in favor while most Republicans are opposed.

Some Republicans prefer Senator Mike Brown, Indiana, to vote to reject the administration’s mandates in a congressional review expected next week, apart from the funding competition.

Separately, some health care providers have challenged the interim spending measure. Hospitals say they are not protecting them from Medicare cuts due to take effect amid uncertainties over the new omicron option.


Associated Press employee Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar contributed to this report.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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