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Deja Vu All Over Again: House Passes Stop-Gap Measure to Avoid Govt Shutdown

Deja Vu All Over Again: House Passes Stop-Gap Measure to Avoid Govt Shutdown

As a midnight Friday deadline loomed, Congress gave final approval on Thursday to legislation that will fund the government through March 11th, avoiding the embarrassing spectacle of federal agencies having to shut many of their operations amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis. Existing funds were set to expire for operating most of the federal government by Friday.

The temporary funding bill passed in a bipartisan vote of 65-27 and now goes to President Joe Biden for signing into law.

It’s the third stop-gap measure Congress has utilized since last September, which the House of Representatives passed in February, and would give congressional Democrats and Republicans extra time to reach a deal on a massive spending bill to keep Washington going through September 30th, the end of the current fiscal year.

House-Senate negotiations on a spending deal likely would appropriate around $1.5 trillion in “discretionary” funds for an array of government programs, including those administered by the Pentagon, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Health and Human Services (HHS), and other Cabinet-level departments.

Failure to reach a deal by March 11th would leave Congress with three options: simply passing a bill extending current funding at levels approved by Donald Trump’s administration for the remainder of this fiscal year; approving a fourth temporary funding bill in the hope that a grand deal still can be negotiated, or letting funding lapse. The last choice would trigger widespread furloughs of federal workers, shuttering many programs.

The last time Congress failed to fund the government was in December 2018, when Democrats balked at funding then-President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico “border wall.” Following a record 35-day impasse, Trump found ways to partially circumvent Congress, but the so-called wall never was completed amid skepticism over its effectiveness. This time around, Republicans are insisting that overall spending be split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. Democrats who narrowly control Congress have been seeking slightly more spending in the non-defense arena.

 

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