Government shutdown: What's next when the House fails to pass a temporary funding bill?

Government shutdown: What's next when the House fails to pass a temporary funding bill?

The government shutdown threat ends when Congress approves a temporary funding plan and sends it to Biden.

  The threat of a federal government shutdown ended abruptly late Saturday, hours before midnight, as Congress approved a stopgap funding bill to keep agencies open and sent the measure to President Joe Biden to become law.

The rushed package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but increases federal disaster aid by $16 billion, meeting Biden's full request. The bill funds the government until November 17.

After chaotic days of turmoil in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy suddenly abandoned demands for sharp spending cuts from his right flank and instead relied on Democrats to pass the bill, putting his job in jeopardy. The Senate followed with the final segment that ended a windy day at the Capitol.

"This is good news for the American people," Biden said.

He also said that the United States "under no circumstances can allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted" and expected McCarthy to "maintain his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure the passage of support needed to assist Ukraine at this critical moment."

It was a surprising turn of events in Congress after days of chaos in the House that pushed the government to the brink of a devastating federal shutdown.

The result, for now, is the threat of closure, but the postponement may be short-lived. Congress will again need to fund the government in the coming weeks, risking a crisis as views harden, especially among right-wing lawmakers whose demands were ultimately ignored this time in favor of a more partisan approach.

"We will do our job," McCarthy, a California Republican, said before the House vote. "We will be the adults in the room. We will keep the government open."

If an agreement had not been reached before Sunday, federal workers would have faced layoffs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military personnel would have been forced to work without pay, and programs and services that Americans depend on from coast to coast would have begun to face lockdown disruptions.

"It's been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief: There will be no government shutdown," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.

The package funds the government at current levels for 2023 through mid-November and extends other provisions, including the Federal Aviation Administration. The House approved the package by a vote of 335 to 91, with support from most Republicans and nearly all Democrats. The Senate passed by a vote of 88 to 9.

But the loss of Ukrainian aid has been devastating for lawmakers from both parties who pledged support for President Volodymyr Zelensky after his recent visit to Washington. The Senate bill includes $6 billion for Ukraine, and both chambers paused on Saturday while lawmakers weighed their options.

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York said, "The American people deserve better," warning in a lengthy speech that "extremist" Republicans risked a shutdown.

To approve the House package, McCarthy, the California Republican, had to rely on Democrats because the House Speaker's hard-right wing said he would oppose any short-term funding measure, depriving him of the necessary votes from his slim majority. It's a move that risks his job amid calls for his ouster.

After his naysayers leave, McCarthy will almost certainly face a motion to remove him from office, although it is not certain that there will be enough votes to oust the Speaker. Most Republicans voted in favor of the package on Saturday, while 90 opposed it.

"If someone wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try it," McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. "But I think this country is very important."

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

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who has defended aid to Ukraine despite resistance from his ranks, is expected to continue U.S. support for Kyiv in the war against Russia.

"I have agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security assistance to Ukraine," McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said before the vote.

Late at night, the Senate deadlocked when Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, suspended the vote, seeking assurances that funds allocated to Ukraine would be reconsidered.

"I know that important moments are like this, for the United States, to lead the rest of the world," Bennett said, noting that his mother was born in Poland in 1938 and survived the Holocaust. "We cannot fail."

  The House's quick turnaround on Friday follows McCarthy's previous plan to pass a Republican-only bill that included steep spending cuts of up to 30% for most government agencies that the White House and Democrats rejected as too extreme.

"Our options are diminishing by the minute," said one senior Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

The federal government was heading into a shutdown that presented extreme employee uncertainty.

Families who depend on Head Start for Children, Nutritional Benefits, and countless other large and small programs were facing potential interruptions or complete closure. At airports, TSA officers and air traffic controllers are expected to work without pay, but travelers may need more time to update their U.S. passports or other travel documents.

McCarthy's previous plan to keep the government open collapsed Friday over opposition from a faction of 21 far-right parties despite sharp spending cuts of nearly 30% for several agencies and tough provisions on border security.

The White House ignored McCarthy's overtures to meet with Biden after the House speaker withdrew from the debt deal they brokered earlier this year that set budget levels.

To cater to his hard-right wing, McCarthy made multiple concessions, including a return to spending caps that conservatives demanded in January as part of deal-making to help him become Speaker of the House.

But that was not enough, as the right-wing insisted that the House follow normal rules, debating and approving each of the 12 separate spending bills needed to fund government agencies, a process that usually takes months.

McCarthy's chief Republican critic, Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, has warned that he will introduce a motion calling for a vote to remove the House speaker.

Some Republican opponents, including Gaetz, are allies of former President Donald Trump, Biden's main rival in the 2024 race. Trump has encouraged Republicans to fight hard for their priorities and even "shut them down."

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

"We all have a responsibility to lead and govern," said Republican Rep. Mike Lawler of New York.

"Protecting Ukraine is in our national interest," said the only House Democrat to vote against the package, Rep. Mike Quigley of Illinois, co-chair of the Congressional Ukraine Caucus.

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