The US just avoided a government shutdown. What happens now?

Democratic senator says there’s an ‘overwhelming bipartisan majority in favour of aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, aid to Taiwan’

Gustaf Kilander,Eric Garcia
Thursday 16 November 2023 11:05 EST

Senate passes short-term funding bill to avert government shutdown

The Senate passed the funding package put forward by the House, sending the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature and setting up two new deadlines early next year.

The funding package, which passed the Senate against the opposition of one Democrat and 10 Republicans, keeps parts of the government up and running until early next year. The bill extends funding for military construction, veterans’ affairs, transportation, housing and the Department of Energy until 19 January and the rest of the government until 2 February.

House Republicans pushed for the two-pronged measure in the hope that it would block the passing of a massive “omnibus” funding package – which typically includes all 12 major spending bills – as they believe the omnibus procedure prevents spending cuts.

The continuing resolution passed by both chambers doesn’t include any aid to either Israel or Ukraine, which were important issues for Democrats.

“We need supplemental funding that covers Israel, Ukraine, humanitarian relief, security at home for mosques, and synagogues,” Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said. “And we need money for childcare. We’ve got a complete collapse in the system. So there’s work to be done.”

Fellow Democrat, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, told The Independent: “I’m very hopeful because there’s clearly an overwhelming bipartisan majority in favour of aid to Ukraine, aid to Israel, aid to Taiwan.”

“If it’s given a vote, it will pass,” he said.

But it remains unclear if Congress will be able to pass legislation to keep the government running ahead of the two new deadlines, with Utah Republican Senator and 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney simply telling The Independent: “I have no idea.”

But he added that “it’s a good development on the part of the House and Senate got the job done as well. So very positive”.

Members of Congress remain under pressure to try to pass spending bills lasting a full year.

Last month, Mr Biden requested urgent funding for a national security package that included funding for Ukraine, Israel and border security. When exactly Congress may take steps to respond to the request remains unclear but House Speaker Mike Johnson has said that approving a short-term funding package would give Republicans the opportunity to push for discussions on oversight for the aid to Ukraine as well as sending assistance to Israel.

There’s resistance to further aid to Ukraine among Republicans in both the House and Senate but it’s the opposition is significantly more widespread in the more unruly House.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters after the passage of the funding package in the upper chamber that the work to send aid to Ukraine and Israel would start “immediately” after the Thanksgiving break.

“Keeping the government is a good outcome, of course, but we have a lot more work to do after Thanksgiving,” he said, according to NBC.

“I know both sides genuinely care about approving aid to Israel and Ukraine and helping innocent civilians in Gaza. So I hope we can come to an agreement even if neither side gets everything they insist on,” he added.

Mr Schumer went on to say that the funding needs to be bipartisan and that he hopes that getting aid to Ukraine, Israel, and the Indo-Pacific won’t be predicated on funding border security.

He said that the discussions regarding the border are “certainly not over”.

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