by Kevin Freaking and Lisa Mascaro
WASHINGTON (AP) – The risk of a short-term government shutdown appeared to ease late Thursday as the Senate pushed toward final approval of a bill that would fund the government until February 18, prompting President Joe Biden to sign it. Sending solutions. ,
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters it “looks good” that senators will pass the bill and “make sure the government remains open.”
The measure has held up for days, and it was not immediately clear how the Senate would resolve the standoff with some conservative Republicans, who threatened to stall the bill in hopes of forcing debate over Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. was given. Some GOP senators said they would not support a speedy vote on the spending measure without taking a vote that would withhold funding for large employers to implement a vaccine mandate.
But a vote was expected later on Thursday.
The funding agreement between congressional leaders announced earlier in the day will keep the government running for 11 more weeks, generally at current spending levels, while adding $7 billion to aid in the evacuation of Afghanistan.
The Democratic-led House passed the measure on Thursday 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.
In the House, 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 House action, 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.
The House vote sent the measure to the Senate. Conservative Republicans opposed to Biden’s vaccine rules want Congress to take a tougher stance against mandatory shots for workers in large businesses, even if it means closing federal offices over the weekend by blocking a request that calls on 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.
House Republicans said during the debate that they had made it clear over the summer that they would not support spending bills that include “irresponsible spending increases and extreme policies.”
“Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we find ourselves,” said Granger of Rep., R-Texas.
But Democrats accused Republicans of being in favor of the shutdown, citing remarks from Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green, R-Ga., who said at one point in the debate: “Don’t pass CR. Shut it down.”
Democrats were able to use their majority to push the spending bill. He has a more difficult task in the 50-50 Senate, where objections by just one senator could slow the final vote after the Friday midnight deadline.
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 blamed Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., for 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.
GOP senators said the idea is to vote on a withdrawal of money that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration would use to enforce a requirement that private employers with 100 or more workers make sure they are vaccinated or tested regularly. has gone.
“This is a chance to right a wrong,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kahn, who made a similar effort against vaccine mandates during a previous government funding impasse.
Schumer said early Thursday that “the deal was not easy to reach” and while most Republicans don’t want the shutdown, “some individual Republican senators are opposed to the president’s life-saving vaccine guidelines for derailing this important legislation.” are firm.”
“Let’s be clear, if there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican, anti-vaccine shutdown,” Schumer 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 are factors in 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.
“There’s too much chaos in our country right now, too much worry about O’Micron. The last thing we need is more confusion and fear,” said Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. reiterated that there would be no closure.
“We’re not going to do that,” he said on Thursday.
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.