The House on Thursday passed a short-term government funding bill that would avoid a shutdown before a Friday deadline.
The bill passed by a 221-212 margin in a nearly party-line vote to keep the federal government running. Only GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger joined with Democrats to vote for it.
The Senate will attempt to pass the bill as soon as Thursday night. It could face problems as the chamber’s leaders try to prevent a crisis. Any senator has the ability to stop the bill’s quick passage, and a handful of Republicans have threatened to delay it as they try to bar the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for private employers.
An extended shutdown can lead to furloughs of federal workers and the suspension of certain government services. The Biden administration’s Office of Management and Budget pushed for “swift passage” of the spending measure on Thursday.
The bill would fund the government at current levels through Feb. 18.
A man walks past the U.S. Capitol building as a government shutdown looms in Washington, September 30, 2021.
Leah Millis | Reuters
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell opposes the push within his caucus to delay the funding bill. On Thursday, he told Fox News he does not think “shutting down the government over this issue is going to get an outcome,” noting the mandate has hit a wall in federal courts.
“We’re not going to shut the government down,” he said. “That makes no sense for anyone. Almost no one on either side thinks that’s a good idea.”
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Thursday knocked the GOP holdouts for risking an “unnecessary and dangerous” shutdown. He said on the Senate floor that “I hope cooler heads will prevail on the other side so we can keep the government funded before tomorrow’s deadline.”
Biden on Thursday told reporters he spoke with both Schumer and McConnell about preventing a shutdown. He said “there is a plan in place unless somebody decides to be totally erratic, and I don’t think that will happen.”
A few Republicans led by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah have led the push around vaccine mandates. The effort could delay approval of the funding bill and cause at least a temporary shutdown.
It is unclear whether Senate leaders can reach an agreement that would allow for a quick vote on the spending bill. The Republicans who could block government funding have pushed for a vote on an amendment to bar the vaccine mandate.
“All we want is a vote,” Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., told CNBC on Thursday morning. He said on “Squawk Box” that he wants senators to “put their cards on the table” about whether they back the mandate.
The crusade from the GOP holdouts may have little practical effect. A federal appeals court has already temporarily blocked the mandate on employers from going into effect.
In addition, if lawmakers can resolve a potential shutdown this weekend before federal employees go back to work Monday, it would cause only minimal disruption.
Once Congress passes a stopgap bill, lawmakers will try to resolve disagreements over funding priorities to approve full-year appropriations legislation before Feb. 18.