November 26, 2022, 16:50

Biden signs last-minute deal to avert government shutdown

Biden signs last-minute deal to avert government shutdown

President Joe Biden on Thursday evening signed a deal the House and Senate passed earlier in the day to avert a government shutdown that would have affected hundreds of thousands of federal workers and slammed an economy still struggling to recover from the pandemic, all with just hours left to stave off a crisis.

“It meets critical and urgent needs of the nation,” the president said in a statement Thursday night, but he also noted, “There’s so much more to do.”

Under the deal, announced by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, senators dispensed with a handful of Republican amendments and then approved, 65-35, a temporary funding bill that not only averts a shutdown until Dec. 3, but also includes $28.6 billion in disaster aid for states ravaged by extreme weather and $6.3 billion to further assist Afghan refugees.

The House passed the Senate version of the stopgap measure later Thursday afternoon, 254-175, just hours before the government technically runs out of money at the end of the day Thursday.

According to the White House, H.R. 5305 — the Extending Government Funding and Delivering Emergency Assistance Act — “provides fiscal year 2022 appropriations to Federal agencies through December 3.”

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockSenate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer walks to the Senate floor following Senate passage of a stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown in the U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C., Sept. 30, 2021.

The bill does not include any provision to raise the nation’s debt ceiling, after Republicans steadfastly rejected any attempt to include it.

MORE: If there's a government shutdown, here’s what you need to know

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has continued to insist that his conference will not help raise the borrowing limit — or even expedite Democrats’ ability to do so alone — citing concerns about the majority party’s intention to pass trillions in new spending for social and climate policy. This, despite a debt ceiling increase paying for past, bipartisan debt.

MORE: What the debt ceiling is, and why you should care about it

“What Republicans laid out all along was a clean continuing resolution without the poison pill of a debt limit increase,” McConnell said. “That’s exactly what we’ll pass today.”

Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/ShutterstockSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks into the U.S. Capitol ahead of a vote on a continuing budget resolution in Washington, D.C., Sept. 30, 2021.

He said Democrats “accepted reality,” putting forward a “clean” continuing resolution to fund the government, and that “the same thing will need to happen on the debt limit.”

Schumer said Republicans realized a shutdown would be “catastrophic” and “they should realize that a default on the national debt would be even worse.”

He said the GOP have spent the week “solidifying themselves as the party of default.”

Biden hinted at the discord in his statement on the continuing resolution Thursday evening, writing that “the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people.”

MORE: Treasury secretary warns of 'calamity' if Congress doesn't raise debt limit

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned of “calamity” for the economy and average Americans unless the debt limit is raised before Oct. 18.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., noted the irony of Republicans refusing to raise the borrowing limit but then voting to approve billions in new spending.

“If there’s no money in the treasury to pay for these items — what’s the point?” Leahy asked.

McConnell, for his part, condemned Democrats for not including $1 billion in funding for Israel’s anti-missile Iron Dome system. Democrats in the House balked at funding, and the measure was stripped out in that chamber. But a majority of Democrats in both chambers have said they intend to pass the funding for a key U.S. ally at a later date.

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