Congress Approves Interim Budget, Postpones Federal Budget Dispute to Next Year

by Sophia Chen
Government Shutdown

Congress, averting a potential government shutdown, approved a stopgap funding measure on Wednesday evening, extending current government operations and delaying budgetary disagreements until the next year.

The Senate, working late into the night, passed the legislation with a decisive 87-11 vote, following its successful passage through the House on a strongly bipartisan basis. This interim funding arrangement extends into the next year, setting the stage for a future legislative battle over budgetary allocations between the House and Senate.

This move effectively eliminates the immediate risk of a government shutdown, just days before the deadline for funding expiration.

Avoiding a Shutdown

Lacking sufficient Republican support, Speaker Johnson leaned on Democratic votes to prevent a government shutdown

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, speaking at a press conference, confidently announced, “This year, we are avoiding a government shutdown.”

The temporary funding maintains the status quo for about two more months, during which a more permanent budget will be negotiated. This approach divides the deadlines for finalizing annual budgets into two: January 19 for some agencies and February 2 for the rest, potentially heightening the risk of a partial shutdown.

Republican Whip John Thune, the Senate’s second-ranking Republican, earlier remarked that everyone is prepared to cast their votes and reserve their battles for another day.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had been in discussions with President Joe Biden at the White House on October 31, 2023, to navigate the vote on this temporary funding, aimed at keeping the holiday season devoid of any shutdown concerns. Senators had been working rapidly on finalizing this funding package on Wednesday.

While not universally favored in the Senate, the bill gained substantial support, with all but one Democrat and 10 Republicans voting in favor to prevent an immediate shutdown. However, Sen. Patty Murray, who leads the Senate Appropriations Committee, expressed concerns about this approach potentially doubling the risk of a shutdown.

The bill also omits the White House’s request for nearly $106 billion in wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian assistance for Palestinians and other supplemental requests. Post-Thanksgiving, lawmakers are expected to focus more intently on these requests, aiming to reach a consensus.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, instrumental in shaping this plan, has pledged not to endorse any more temporary funding solutions, known as continuing resolutions. He views this interim funding as a precursor to a more intense budgetary clash with the Senate next year.

Johnson, identifying himself as a staunch conservative, aims to avoid a hurried, massive government funding bill before the December holidays, a situation that particularly frustrates conservatives.

However, Johnson faces resistance from other hardline conservatives who wish to use the threat of a government shutdown to demand significant budget cuts and policy changes.

These conservatives were part of a group of 19 Republicans who opposed Johnson on Wednesday, blocking the floor consideration of a bill to fund various government agencies.

After this setback, GOP leaders ended the week’s legislative session, allowing members to leave early for Thanksgiving. This decision concluded a period marked by intense internal disagreements among lawmakers.

Johnson, acknowledging the high-pressure environment, noted the continuous ten-week session in Washington for the House.

The House Republicans’ disunity on funding legislation may undermine Johnson’s negotiation leverage with the Senate.

Republicans are advocating for a budget process involving 12 distinct bills, but House leadership has struggled to gain support for these bills, leading to the withdrawal or rejection of several.

Upon returning, Congress is expected to address the Biden administration’s funding requests for Ukraine and Israel. Republican senators, linking additional aid for Ukraine with immigration and border legislation, are pushing for a compromise. However, bipartisan Senate efforts to reach an agreement have been challenging.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell has committed to advocating for policy changes concerning the U.S.-Mexico border crisis, which he attributes to the current administration’s policies.

A notable Republican proposal suggests correlating Ukraine aid with reductions in illegal border crossings, reflecting the willingness of Ukraine’s longtime supporters to use this aid as leverage for addressing U.S. border issues.

Senator Kevin Cramer has indicated that while most Senate Republicans support Ukraine funding, border security remains a higher priority.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, accompanying President Biden in San Francisco for an Asia-Pacific summit, mentioned that funding for Ukraine is dwindling, impacting the country’s defense capabilities.

Senator Michael Bennet voted against the funding package, citing the absence of Ukraine aid.

Schumer anticipates future discussions on both funding and border legislation but emphasizes the need for compromise, urging House Speaker Johnson to continue bipartisan collaboration.

Report contributors: Mary Clare Jalonick, Darlene Superville, and Farnoush Amiri from Big Big News.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Government Shutdown

What was the recent action taken by Congress regarding government funding?

Congress approved a temporary funding bill, pushing the federal budget confrontation to next year and averting a potential government shutdown.

Why was this interim funding necessary?

The interim funding was necessary to prevent a government shutdown, as it maintains current government operational levels and allows more time for detailed budget negotiations.

What are the new deadlines set for budget approval?

The new deadlines are January 19 for some federal agencies and February 2 for others, creating two dates where there’s a risk of a partial government shutdown.

What major international funding requests were not included in the spending bill?

The bill does not include the White House’s nearly $106 billion request for wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian assistance for Palestinians and other supplemental requests.

What stance has House Speaker Mike Johnson taken regarding future funding measures?

Speaker Mike Johnson has vowed not to support any further stopgap funding measures, known as continuing resolutions, and is pushing for deeper spending cuts.

What challenges are Republican leaders facing in the House regarding funding legislation?

The House Republicans are facing a lack of unity on funding legislation, which may undermine their ability to negotiate with the Senate on budgetary matters.

How is the funding for Ukraine linked to U.S. border policy?

Some Republicans propose linking Ukraine funding levels with decreases in illegal border crossings, showing a willingness to use foreign aid to force domestic policy changes.

More about Government Shutdown

  • Government Funding and Budget Negotiations
  • Temporary Funding Bill to Avoid Shutdown
  • Congressional Deadlines for Budget Approval
  • White House Requests for International Aid
  • House Speaker Mike Johnson’s Funding Policy
  • Republican Challenges in House Funding Legislation
  • Linking Ukraine Aid to U.S. Border Policy

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Bill J. November 16, 2023 - 3:24 pm

wow, congress actually got something done for a change, avoiding that shutdown just in time huh?

Jenny87 November 16, 2023 - 5:44 pm

Always the same with these temp solutions, when are they gonna sort out the real issues? just kicking the can down the road.

Linda_R November 16, 2023 - 6:43 pm

Border policy being linked to Ukraine aid, that’s a new one. Politics is just full of surprises.

MikeT November 16, 2023 - 9:24 pm

Did they really skip the aid for Ukraine and Israel, thats a big deal, shouldnt be overlooked guys..

Gary Smith November 17, 2023 - 3:43 am

Speaker Johnson seems pretty set in his ways, wonder how that will play out with the senate, lot of talk about cuts

Sara K. November 17, 2023 - 7:43 am

its interesting to see how they keep pushing the budget issues down the road, what happens in february then?


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