Senate Passes Short-Term Budget To Avert Government Shutdown Until January


The Senate passed a short-term budget to fund federal agencies through Jan. 19, with the vote coming just two days before the government would have shut down without a spending plan in place—marking the first time since 2012 Congress has entered into the holiday season without the threat of a December shutdown.

Key Facts

The Senate voted 87-11, with one Democrat, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, joining 10 Republicans to vote against the legislation that will fund some federal agencies through Jan. 19 and the rest through Feb. 2.

The vote comes a day after the GOP-controlled House voted 336-95 to pass the bill with support from all but two Democrats, though 93 Republicans voted against the legislation backed by new House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.).

Though the White House previously expressed opposition to the two-tiered deadline, calling it “a recipe for more Republican chaos,” President Joe Biden is expected to sign the legislation into law.

The legislation’s passage represents a rare moment of consensus and efficiency for the 118th Congress that has been marred by Republican infighting in the House surrounding high-stakes legislation, including the September shutdown negotiations that led to former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) outster.

Wednesday’s vote is the second time Congress has extended the fiscal year 2023 budget, which expired in September, to avert a government shutdown.

Crucial Quote

“The House-passed funding bill will avoid a government shutdown, and it will do so without any hard right spending cuts or poison pills,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted Wednesday, vowing that the Senate would “promptly pass the bill.”

Key Background

Johnson unveiled a proposal for the staggered deadlines over the weekend in a bid to placate far-right Republicans who are opposed to passing all 12 annual appropriations bills in one fell swoop. He still faced some blowback from hard-right members, however, for failing to put forward a new budget that met their demands for steep spending cuts. Democratic leadership supported the legislation precisely for that reason. The legislation was Johnson’s first major test as speaker and mirrored the September shutdown negotiations that were the final straw for hard-right Republicans who voted to remove McCarthy. The coalition of eight GOP members who joined Democrats in voting to eject McCarthy cited his teaming with Democrats to pass the bill that extended the government shutdown deadline through Friday, among other grievances, in voting to eject him. Some of those Republicans have said they are giving Johnson more leeway simply because he’s new.

What To Watch For

Johnson has vowed not to pass another short-term budget and said Tuesday he will negotiate a full-year spending package ahead of the January expiration date. The commitment sets the stage for bitter partisan feud when Congress returns in January as Republicans and Democrats remain deeply divided when it comes to spending priorities. The White House has proposed a $106 billion supplemental aid package for Israel and Ukraine, plus more border security funding, that Republicans in both chambers have rejected. House Republicans are instead pushing a standalone aid package for Israel that also includes cuts to the Internal Revenue Service, while Senate Republicans are angling to tack on additional border security provisions to a joint Israel-Ukraine aid package. Failing to pass a new fiscal year 2024 spending deal by Jan. 1 will trigger 1% spending cuts across all government agencies, per the May debt ceiling deal McCarthy and Biden negotiated—a scenario members on both sides of the aisle oppose for various reasons. The far-right is also demanding spending levels beneath the threshold set by the debt ceiling deal, which required spending to remain flat in fiscal year 2024 and increase by 1% in 2025.

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