House Passes Stopgap Spending Extension Through Feb. 18
Late Deal Sets Stage for Senate Vote Thursday Night
WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday evening passed a stopgap spending bill that, if the Senate follows suit, will keep the federal government running until Feb. 18.
The vote was 221-212 with one Republican joining Democrats in approving the measure.
It now moves on to the Senate, where a group of conservative Republicans were planning to slow the bill’s passage in a bid to get the Biden administration to roll back COVID-19 vaccine mandates for private businesses that employ over 100 employees.
Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., the conservative leading the charge against the mandates, said the effort is all about preserving and creating jobs and protecting national security. If he and like-minded Republicans stalled the Senate vote, it would have set the stage for a short-term government shut down this weekend.
But early Thursday night Democrats and Republicans struck a deal paving the way to avert a shutdown.
As a result, the Senate will first vote Thursday night on an amendment advanced by the conservative Republicans to defund President Biden’s vaccine mandate for employers.
Democrats also agreed to allow the amendment vote at a simple-majority threshold, something the conservatives were holding out for.
In theory that means if they can convince every Republican and just one Democrat to vote for the amendment, it would be added to the funding bill.
The Senate will then move on to voting on the short-term funding bill, where they will need 60 votes to send it to president’s desk.
Addressing the GOP pushback on the continuing resolution in a floor speech Thursday morning, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Democrats and most Republicans, including the Republican leader, have said they don’t want to see a shutdown.
“We hope cooler heads will prevail, but just as we saw with the NDAA, a few individual Republican senators appear determined to derail this important legislation because of their opposition to the president’s life-saving vaccine guidelines.
“Let’s be clear: If there is a shutdown, it will be a Republican anti-vaccine shutdown,” he said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also weighed in on the matter Thursday, telling reporters at her weekly news conference that despite the rhetoric of some Republicans, she expects the Senate to pass the legislation in a timely fashion.
“How do they explain to the public that they’re shutting down the government because they don’t want people to be vaccinated?” she said.
“This is so silly. It’s silly that we have people who are anti-science, anti-vaccination, saying they’re going to shut down the government over that.”
Pelosi was then asked how the Democrats respond to those Republicans who want to slow the continuing resolution.
“Our message is that we have to respect governance,” she said. “And we have to respect science. Our members stand ready to keep the government open.”
After the vote in the House, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said, “While this short-term measure is needed to avoid a government shutdown, we must use this additional time to enact a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus appropriations bill.
“With a new deadline of Feb. 18, there is ample time for Republicans to join us for bipartisan, bicameral appropriations negotiations,” DeLauro said.
Later, she added, “A bipartisan agreement is imperative, and Democrats are ready to negotiate. As we extend funding to Feb. 18, Republicans must offer constructive proposals to address the critical issues facing the country by funding the federal government’s important work for the American people.”
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