Senate passes stopgap to avoid shutdown this weekend


The Senate voted late Thursday on a stopgap measure to avoid a government shutdown this weekend, with funding now due to expire at midnight Friday.

The vote was 71 to 19.

Now that it has passed the Senate, it can go to President Joe Biden to sign into law. The House of Representatives approved the measure on Wednesday.

The stopgap extension extends funding for another week — until Friday, Dec. 23 — to give congressional negotiators time to hammer out a broader deal on government funding for the year and set new spending levels.

In a sign of progress, top negotiators announced late Tuesday that an agreement had been reached on a framework, putting lawmakers on track to complete a comprehensive full-year government funding package.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy said in a statement that he and top Republican Richard Shelby and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro had “agreed on a bipartisan, bicameral framework, which should allow us to complete a comprehensive appropriations bill that can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President.”

So far, however, negotiators have not provided many details about the deal.

Total revenue was about $1.7 trillion, Shelby said Wednesday, without elaborating. The exact allocation to different government agencies is still being negotiated, Shelby said.

The announcement of a framework agreement on a broader spending bill represented a major breakthrough in negotiations, but there is now more work to be done as lawmakers work to hammer out the fine print and the specifics of what the sprawling legislation will contain.

The expectation on Capitol Hill is that Congress can avoid a shutdown, but lawmakers are under pressure given the tight schedule and little margin for error for congressional leaders.

Reaching a bipartisan agreement on a full-year government funding deal has proven challenging due to partisan differences over how much should be spent on nondefense domestic priorities.

Republicans have criticized Democrats’ recent domestic spending and argue that measures passed by Democrats while they controlled both chambers of Congress, such as the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill and sweeping health care and climate bills, were wasteful and exacerbate inflation.

Democrats have countered that the measures are necessary to help the country recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, as well as address other key priorities. Democrats say funding for the coronavirus response, health care and climate change should not mean that there should be less funding for government operations and nondefense, domestic spending next year.

This story and title have been updated with additional developments.

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