December 8, 2023

Congress narrowly averted a potential government shutdown after Republicans and Democrats reached a deal that includes a 45-day funding bill to avert a government shutdown after Democrats bailed out GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy‘s beleaguered efforts.

After passing in the House of Representatives on Saturday afternoon, the Senate debated for hours, with the vote being delayed by one senator calling for the measure to include aid to Ukraine, before the upper chamber finally garnered enough votes to approve the measure. After a vote of 88-9, the Senate sent the bill to President Joe Biden to avoid the shutdown with just hours until the midnight deadline. Biden is expected to sign the measure.

The stopgap bill, which relied on bipartisan support from Democrats in the Republican-led House, comes after the lower chamber had failed to get a federal funding measure passed due to political infighting. The process was stalled by the far-right, MAGA-aligned members of the House GOP, who called for massive spending cuts and have threatened to vacate McCarthy from his role as speaker.

Senate Vote on Shutdown Bill
A SPACEs In Action display a banner stating “Congress Do Your Job: No Government Shut Down” near the U.S. Capitol Building on September 29, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images for SPACEs In Action)
Paul Morigi/Getty

While speaking on the floor shortly after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, praised both parties, saying they have “come together to avert a shutdown.”

“The Senate showed that bipartisanship was the only way and the same will be true again in 45 days,” Schumer said.

Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday night to representatives for Schumer and McCarthy for comment.

Just hours before a looming government shutdown, which would have wide-ranging effects for millions of Americans, Republicans and Democrats finally came to a short-term agreement that keeps the government funded for 45 days and gives Congress time to continue developing a long-term solution.

In the House, the measure passed with a vote of 335-91, with bipartisan support from a majority of Democrats. Of the 91 votes against the measure, 90 were Republicans. The stopgap bill allows critical government services to continue, which include disaster relief funds, and an extension of a federal flood insurance program. However, the the House-approved measure did not include aid to Ukraine, which became a point of contention in the Senate.

Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, caused the upper chamber to delay the vote as the clock ticked down to the deadline, his colleagues said. Bennet reportedly demanded a promise of quick consideration of aid to Ukraine, forcing Congressional leadership to work up a commitment.

Bennet, who ultimately voted yes on the measure, cited his family history as the reason for his delay and told The Washington Post that he wanted the world to know that congress could come back with a “bipartisan effort to fund Ukraine properly.”

Newsweek reached out to Bennet for comment on Saturday night.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated.

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