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Government shutdown looms as Senate approves funding bill hours before deadline


WASHINGTON — The Senate passed a stopgap government funding measure on Thursday to prevent a shutdown, approving the measure hours before the midnight deadline.

The Senate voted 65-35 in a display of bipartisanship, to advance the measure. The bill will then go to the House, which needs to pass it before it goes to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

Earlier in the week the Senate blocked the House version of the bill in a procedural vote because of Republican opposition to extending the debt ceiling, which for political reasons they want to force Democrats to approve on their own.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House would pass the short term government spending measure on Thursday.

“We hope it will be a strongly bipartisan bill, Pelosi told reporters during her weekly press conference. “It will happen today.”

An amendment to the spending bill from Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kan., sought to prohibit federal funds from being used to enforce Covid-19 vaccine mandates, but it failed on a 50-50 vote, with all Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed.

If the spending bill is not enacted, the federal government would face a shutdown beginning Friday. The deal announced by Schumer would keep the government open through Dec. 3.

The Treasury Department estimates that the debt limit will be hit on Oct. 18, according to a letter Secretary Janet Yellen sent to Pelosi on Tuesday.

“It is important to remember that estimates regarding how long our remaining extraordinary measures and cash may last can unpredictably shift forward or backward,” Yellen wrote.

The Senate’s new spending bill does not include the debt limit increase. It does include, however, money to resettle Afghan refugees and disaster aid for victims of Hurricane Ida.

Meanwhile, the House is bracing for a highly anticipated vote on an infrastructure bill that doesn’t appear to have the support it needs to pass.

The holdup is the result of a standoff between Democratic moderates, who want to de-link the two measures and pass the $550 billion infrastructure bill quickly, and progressive lawmakers, who are holding it up because they don’t trust centrists to support the bigger one without the smaller one.

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