The United States House passes a bill to prevent a government shutdown, with the Senate vote following

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The US Senate is ready to vote Thursday night to fund the government until mid-February, eliminating the risk of a partial shutdown, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters.

That vote would come hours after the House of Representatives voted 221-212 to pass the interim funding bill, which runs through Feb.18. Only one Republican supported the measure.

“It looks good that we are going to pass the CR tonight and make sure the government stays open,” Schumer said Thursday.

He did not mention a proposal by a small group of hardline Republican senators to withdraw funding for President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers. It was not clear that those Republicans had the votes to pass his proposal in the tightly Democratic-controlled chamber.

Republican Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Roger Marshall had previously raised the possibility that the government could partially shut down over the weekend as the Senate slowly moves toward eventual approval.

Democrats have 50 seats in the 100-seat Senate, and Vice President Kamala Harris can vote as a runoff.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who must quell rebellion within his group to keep the government running, reiterated Thursday that there would be no shutdown.

But he did not respond when asked whether Republicans would agree to act quickly by agreeing to circumvent the Senate’s cumbersome legislative rules.

“We have to pass it and that’s what we are going to do to do it,” the top Senate Republican told reporters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, criticized the Republican move, saying it demonstrated “irresponsibility” that Congress would reject.

The temporary spending bill would maintain funding for federal government operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, amid concerns about a further surge in cases and the arrival of the Omicron variant in the United States.

The emergency legislation is necessary because Congress has yet to pass the 12 annual appropriation bills that fund government activities for the fiscal year that began October 1.

A partial government shutdown would create political embarrassment for both parties, but especially for Biden’s Democrats, who tightly control both houses of Congress.

Next up: debt ceiling

Congress faces another urgent deadline immediately after this one. The federal government is approaching its borrowing limit of $ 28.9 trillion, which the Treasury Department has estimated it could reach on December 15. Failure to extend or lift the limit on time could trigger a catastrophic financial default.

The fact that the temporary spending bill extends funding through February suggested a victory for Republicans in closed-door negotiations. Democrats had pushed for a measure that would last until the end of January, while Republicans demanded a longer period to bring spending down to levels agreed upon when Republican Donald Trump was president.

“While I wish it would come sooner, this agreement allows the appropriations process to move toward a final funding agreement that addresses the needs of the American people,” House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro said in a statement announcing the agreement.

But he said Democrats prevailed by including a $ 7 billion provision for evacuees from Afghanistan.

Once enacted, the interim funding measure would give Democrats and Republicans nearly 12 weeks to resolve their differences over annual appropriation bills totaling about $ 1.5 trillion funding “discretionary” federal programs for this fiscal year. . Those bills do not include mandatory funds for programs like the Social Security retirement plan that are automatically renewed.

(REUTERS)