The United States Senate voted late on Wednesday night to approve a temporary government funding package, averting a federal shutdown for the second time this year. The short-term continuing resolution, which will fund government services at current levels until early next year, delays the contentious partisan debate over budget cuts and other provisions that will be required for passing a long-term plan.
Wednesday night’s Senate vote produced a final tally of 87 for and 11 against, sending the temporary budget measure to President Joe Biden’s desk for approval. The continuing resolution previously passed the House of Representatives with an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 336 to 95 on Tuesday. In both cases, Republicans provided almost all the “nay” votes — 93 of 95 in the House, 10 of 11 in the Senate.
During the House proceedings on Tuesday, new Republican Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) led the bulk of his party in joining with Democrats to suspend the rules and pass the resolution on to the Senate. This move bypassed the House Rules Committee but required a two-thirds majority. 127 Republicans and 209 Democrats supported the motion.
The short-term proposal has been specifically crafted to be as appealing to both parties as possible, preventing a government shutdown before the holidays. In a two-step process, certain federal agencies will receive funding through January 19 and others until February 2, creating two separate deadlines that each threaten a partial shutdown. The plan contains no spending reductions—a win for Democrats—but also does not include funding for national security issues that Republicans would rather negotiate separately.
“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories. The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess,” Speaker Johnson said in an X post after the House vote. Supplemental funding for issues like border security and aid for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan will be discussed at a later time.
This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories. The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas…
— Speaker Mike Johnson (@SpeakerJohnson) November 11, 2023
The resolution’s passage came despite the objections of many members of the extremely conservative House Freedom Caucus, several members of which ousted Johnson’s predecessor Kevin McCarthy from the speakership over a similar budget plan passed in October.
Immediately after the plan was sent to the Senate, 19 House Republicans sided with Democrats in a 225-198 vote to block debate on a long-term spending plan and a bill freezing Biden’s multi-billion-dollar hostage deal with Iran. Unable to proceed, the chamber headed into its Thanksgiving recess early and will not resume legislative business for two weeks.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer commended House members for ignoring the “hard right” and passing the measure, saying “If that continues, we can avoid further shutdowns and finish the work of funding the government.”
In a speech after the Senate similarly voted to approve the resolution, Schumer declared that “keeping the government is a good outcome, of course, but we have a lot more work to do after Thanksgiving.”
“I know both sides genuinely care about approving aid to Israel and Ukraine and helping innocent civilians in Gaza,” he continued. “So I hope we can come to an agreement even if neither side gets everything they insist on.”
In total, 11 senators—including one Democrat—objected to the budget plan, most of them criticizing its lack of spending cuts. The Senate’s nay votes were cast by Democrat Michael Bennet (CO) and Republicans Marsha Blackburn (TN), Mike Braun (IN), Mike Crapo (ID), Mike Lee (UT), Markwayne Mullin (OK), Rand Paul (KY), James Risch (ID), Eric Schmitt (MO), Rick Scott (FL), and J.D. Vance (OH).
With approval from both chambers of Congress, the continuing resolution now heads to President Biden’s desk, buying the Legislature roughly two months for additional negotiation before the process repeats itself.