Democrats and Republicans in Congress ready to avoid government shutdown

Congress is poised to pass interim legislation to avoid a government shutdown, a rare bipartisan compromise on the eve of hotly contested midterm elections.

The Senate is expected to introduce a Continuing Resolution — a bill to keep government funding at current levels, often referred to as a “CR” — on Thursday that would allow the government to continue operating until Dec. 16. The House will likely pass the measure on Friday.

Once Sen. Joe Manchin III (DW.Va.) agreed to remove language from legislation that would have revised federal rules to authorize major energy projects, the bill easily overcame an evenly divided Senate procedural vote. Tuesday, signaling a likely slide. way to the final passage.

Senate moves forward on short-term spending bill after Manchin-backed provision removed

The legislation includes $12.4 billion in military and diplomatic assistance for Ukraine in its now seven-month war with Russia, but does not include the money the Biden administration has requested for vaccines. , testing and treatment for coronavirus or monkeypox.

After Manchin’s concession on Tuesday, the permitting language was removed from the bill. All Republicans and some Democrats had opposed the measure, citing last week the possibility that a tussle over the issue could have led to the government shutdown.

“We will work quickly and work quickly to complete the process here in the Senate and send a CR to the House so they can send it to the President’s office,” said Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer. (DN.Y.) said Wednesday. “With the cooperation of our Republican colleagues, the Senate can complete its work as soon as [Thursday].”

The federal government’s fiscal year ends Friday at midnight, and without new legislation to fund the government, it would have had to shut down. It would have sidelined everything from federal services, such as anti-poverty food assistance and customer service functions to the Social Security Administration and IRS, to national parks, which would have closed. Some of the 2.1 million federal employees would have their salaries deferred.

The effects would also be detrimental to an already fragile economy — and the two parties’ chances of taking control of Congress in the November election.

Democrats and Republicans are looking at polling data that shows control of both houses of Congress is essentially a toss-up. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters Wednesday that a GOP majority in the upper house is a “50-50.”

“We’re in for a bunch of tight races,” he said, adding, “It’s going to be really, really tight anyway in my opinion.”

The government’s interim financing bill generally does not advance new spending. It is setting aside an additional $1 billion for an assistance package for low-income energy utilities, an increase of about 25%. Policymakers are bracing for higher energy costs this winter as Russia’s war in Ukraine continues and most of the world’s largest economies wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels.

The bill includes $12.4 billion in aid to Ukraine: $7.8 billion in combined direct and indirect military assistance, $4.5 billion to support economic stabilization, and $35 million to secure nuclear materials in Ukraine and respond to possible nuclear incidents.

That funding, Democratic leaders said, is crucial. Ukrainian forces have staged counter-offensives in recent weeks to liberate territory formerly controlled by Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week recruited up to 300,000 reservists to continue the waning attack on the Kremlin and warned that nuclear weapons may not be banned in the conflict.

The Pentagon will double the powerful HIMARS artillery for Ukraine

But some Republicans have expressed opposition to continued defense funding for Ukraine and have suggested that US aid could drop significantly if the GOP takes over Congress.

“I think support for Ukraine will have to be a bipartisan issue going forward, just as it has been in the past,” Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip, said Wednesday, adding: “There are members on our side, and some members on the Democratic side for different reasons, who probably won’t support this effort. But if you look at what they’ve been able to accomplish, how they’ve degraded conventional warfare capabilities of Russia, this is all in our interest, NATO’s interest and, I would say, in the best interest of the world.

The interim funding bill also contains $2 billion for national disaster recovery efforts, including wildfires in the West, floods in Kentucky and hurricanes in the Southeast.

However, this does not include Manchin’s environmental clearance measures for new energy projects. Manchin and Schumer reached an agreement this summer to tie Manchin support for the Cut Inflation Act to a vote on authorization.

His legislation would shorten environmental review periods for building energy projects and require the president to designate 25 energy projects of “strategic national importance”. It would also force agencies to fast-track approval of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, a 303-mile system awaiting final approval that’s popular in West Virginia.

Republicans united in blocking the measure, though changing permission rules has been a popular issue on the right for years. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.) introduced a competing bill that undermined GOP votes. Some senators, including Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), have declared their opposition to Manchin’s proposal due to environmental concerns.

Senate GOP, Liberal Democrats find common cause: Sinking Manchin’s bill

As the government funding deadline approached, Schumer withdrew the authorizing text from the continuing resolution, with Manchin’s approval.

“I kept my commitment to Senator Manchin and look who blocked him – the Republicans,” Schumer said, noting that the language of authorization would need 60 votes to defeat a filibuster.