Government shutdown avoided in dramatic deal as Democrats vote with GOP

By Isaac M October 1, 2023

House votes to fund government for further 45 days

Democrats joined with Republicans in voting for a 45-day funding bill, likely averting a damaging shutdown pending Senate approval.

After Democrats delayed the vote to properly review the 71-legislation put forward by the GOP, the continuing resolution (CR) was passed by an overwhelming majority of 335 to 91.

The vote was on suspending the rules to pass the bill, meaning that a two-thirds majority was required.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy chose to give up on trying to convince the far-right of his party to instead go to the Democrats for support.

The speaker may now lose his job after daring his right flank to move to vacate the chair. Before the vote, McCarthy-antagonist Matt Gaetz of Florida said Mr McCarthy’s speakership was on “tenuous ground”.

Meanwhile, the Senate Republicans chose to overrule their leader Mitch McConnell, who argued for more funding for Ukraine.

The CR passed by the House nixed Ukraine funding even as Pentagon officials lobbied Capitol Hill leaders on Saturday, according to The Washington Post.

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‘All of us have a responsibility to lead and to govern’

At an early closed-door meeting at the Capitol, several House Republicans, particularly those facing tough reelections next year, urged their colleagues to find a way to prevent a shutdown.

“All of us have a responsibility to lead and to govern,” said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York.

But the lone Democrat to vote against the package, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, the co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus, called it a victory for Russian President Vladimir Putin and “Putin-sympathizers everywhere.” He said, “Protecting Ukraine is in our national interest.”

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Earlier McCarthy plan collapsed after opposition from faction of 21 hard-right holdouts

An earlier McCarthy plan to keep the government open collapsed Friday due to opposition from a faction of 21 hard-right holdouts despite steep spending cuts of nearly 30% to many agencies and severe border security provisions.

The White House has brushed aside McCarthy’s overtures to meet with Biden after the speaker walked away from the debt deal they brokered earlier this year that set budget levels.

Catering to his hard-right flank, McCarthy had returned to the spending limits the conservatives demanded back in January as part of the deal-making to help him become the House speaker.

After Friday’s vote, McCarthy’s chief Republican critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, said the speaker’s bill “went down in flames as I’ve told you all week it would.”

Gaetz has warned he will file a motion calling a vote to oust the speaker.

Some of the Republican holdouts, including Gaetz, are allies of former President Donald Trump, who is Biden’s chief rival in the 2024 race. Trump has been encouraging the Republicans to fight hard for their priorities and even to “shut it down.”

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Biden blames Republicans for crisis

President Joe Biden welcomed the last-minute deal but said the United States should never have come so close to a government shutdown. In a statement he said Republicans were to blame – and he promised to keep supporting Ukraine in its battle against the Russian invasion. President Biden wrote:

Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans. This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people.

But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis. For weeks, extreme House Republicans tried to walk away from that deal by demanding drastic cuts that would have been devastating for millions of Americans. They failed.

While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted. I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.

Phil Thomas1 October 2023 02:27

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Senate gives its approval to deal

Late on Saturday, with just hours left before a potential government shutdown, the US Senate gave its approval to the deal passed earlier in the House. The question of continued aid to Ukraine – removed from the House bill at the assistance of pro-Trump Republicans – continued to be a controversial issue, with Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer stressing that assistance to the beleagurered country would continue by other means.

Eric Garcia, John Bowden and Andrew Feinberg have the full story:

Phil Thomas1 October 2023 02:09

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McCarthy forced to rely on Democrats

For the House package to be approved, McCarthy, R-Calif., was forced to rely on Democrats because the speaker’s hard-right flank has said it will oppose any short-term funding measure, denying him the votes needed from his slim majority. It’s a move that risks his job amid calls for his ouster.

After leaving his right-flank behind, McCarthy is almost certain to be facing a motion to try to remove from office, though it is not at all certain there would be enough votes to topple the speaker. Most Republicans voted for the package Saturday while 90 opposed.

“If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. “But I think this country is too important.”

The White House was tracking the developments on Capitol Hill and aides were briefing the president, who was spending the weekend in Washington.

The quick pivot comes after the collapse Friday of McCarthy’s earlier plan to pass a Republican-only bill with steep spending cuts up to 30% to most government agencies that the White House and Democrats rejected as too extreme.

“Our options are slipping away every minute,” said one senior Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

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House measure would fund government at current 2023 levels for 45 days

With no deal in place before Sunday, federal workers will face furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast will begin to face shutdown disruptions.

The House measure would fund government at current 2023 levels for 45 days, through Nov. 17, moving closer to the bipartisan approach in the Senate. But the Senate package would have added $6 billion for Ukraine to fight the war against Russia and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief.

Both chambers came to a standstill as lawmakers assessed their options, some decrying the loss of Ukraine aid.

“The American people deserve better,” said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, warning in a lengthy floor speech that “extreme” Republicans were risking shutdown.

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On the brink of a federal shutdown, the House passes a 45-day funding plan and sends it to Senate

On the brink of a federal government shutdown, the House on Saturday swiftly approved a 45-day funding bill to keep federal agencies open as Speaker Kevin McCarthy dropped demands for steep spending cuts and relied on Democratic votes for passage to send the package to the Senate.

The new approach would leave behind aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but the plan would increase federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting President Joe Biden’s full request. The package was approved 335-91, with most Republicans and almost all Democrats supporting.

With hours to go before the midnight deadline to fund the government, the Senate was also in for a rare weekend session and prepared to act next.

“We’re going to do our job,” McCarthy said before the House vote. “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”

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Dem House leadership says McCarthy asked them ‘to put out the fire that he and his party started’

Gustaf Kilander30 September 2023 23:30

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Tennessee Republican says McCarthy caved

Gustaf Kilander30 September 2023 22:45

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Alarm triggered as Democrats sought delay on House vote

After an emergency alarm was set off in the Cannon House Office Building, where Mr Bowman’s office sits on the building’s third floor, reports emerged that a man matching Mr Bowman’s description had been seen pulling the alarm near a second-floor exit.

The alarm was triggered as Democrats on the House floor were seeking to slow down consideration of a spending bill which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had called up for debate less than an hour earlier.

Democrats had expressed concerns that the bill, which extends government funding for 45 days, might contain objectionable provisions and had demanded more time to review it before voting.

Andrew Feinberg30 September 2023 22:00

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