Senate to introduce bill to prevent government shutdown

Washington – The Senate on Tuesday is set to begin the process of passing a stopgap measure to keep federal agencies operating ahead of Friday’s deadline to avert a partial government shutdown, a bill facing headwinds due to the inclusion of a proposal with Senator Joe Manchin in the lead.

Democratic appropriators on Monday night unveiled their 237-page bill, known as a continuing resolution, that would maintain current funding levels through Dec. 16 and includes a provision to speed up federal environmental reviews of energy and natural resource projects. Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, has pushed the plan and was promised a vote on the matter by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

The legislation also provides $12.3 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine as it continues to fight back against Russia’s aggression, $1 billion to help families with heating and cooling costs amid rising consumer prices, $2.5 billion to help New Mexico recover from the largest wildfire. to hit the state and $20 million in emergency funding for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in the Jackson, Mississippi.

Left out of the plan is the Biden administration’s request for more money for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic and monkeypox outbreak.

The Senate will take the first step toward passing the stopgap measure Tuesday when it votes to advance a “shell” bill that would serve as the legislative vehicle for the funding package.

The bill needs support from both Republicans and Democrats to clear the upper chamber. But if the procedural vote fails, Democratic leaders could remove Manchin’s authorization proposal and vote on the funding plan without it to avoid the partial shutdown.

Late. Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, said the bill would keep “vital services running for the American people” until mid-December, giving lawmakers in both chambers more time to negotiate a bipartisan omnibus package with annual expense accounts.

“Passing full-year appropriations bills into law must be our top priority,” he said in a statement. “At a time of rising inflation, where everything costs more – energy, food, fuel, housing – we must respond accordingly. To go on autopilot after December would be irresponsible.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, welcomed the short-term proposal to provide funding to communities to recover from natural disasters and help Ukraine, but lamented that it left out money for the pandemic and the monkeypox virus.

“Despite these shortcomings, the continuing resolution still provides resources critical to our community and national security,” she said in a statement. “And with just four days before the end of the fiscal year, it keeps the government open. I urge my colleagues in both chambers to act quickly to pass this legislation.”

As Friday’s deadline for Congress to bypass a government shutdown looms, the inclusion of Manchin’s authorization reform — the details of which he released last week — in the short-term funding plan complicates efforts to quickly pass the bill.

The approval proposal is the result of a share between Manchin and Democratic leaders in exchange for his support for a climate, health care and tax package that delivered on key priorities for President Biden and passed 50-50 Senate in August.

But Democrats and Republicans have indicated they want the authorization measure to be taken up separately from the short-term continuing resolution.

“I am disappointed that unrelated permit reform was attached to this bill. This is a controversial issue that should be debated on its own merits,” Leahy said in his statement. “But with four days left in the fiscal year, we cannot risk a government shutdown; we must work to advance this bill.”

DeLauro echoed that sentiment, saying she’s “extremely disappointed” Manchin’s plan isn’t being considered alone. While the funding package provides a “bridge” to the agency spending package, “it’s not perfect,” the Connecticut Democrat said.

Late. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the appropriations panel, urged the Senate to pass a “clean” continuing resolution without Manchin’s proposed authorization for reform.

“We have made significant progress toward a sustainable solution that is as clean as possible,” he said in a statement. “But if the Democrats insist on including allowing reforms, I will oppose it.”

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