/Biden signs short-term funding bill, averting government shutdown through February

Biden signs short-term funding bill, averting government shutdown through February

Both chambers of Congress passed the bill on Thursday.

President Joe Biden has signed a short-term funding bill to keep the government open until Feb. 18, 2022, narrowly averting a shutdown that loomed for Friday, the White House said.

At the top of earlier remarks on the November jobs report Friday, Biden teased he would sign the bill before heading to Camp David for the weekend and said the action represents the “bare minimum” of what Congress should do.

“Funding the government isn’t a great achievement, it’s a bare minimum of what we need to get done,” he said.

The president also thanked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for their leadership on getting the bill passed and called for them to start working now on a full-year funding bill.

“In these times, a bipartisan cooperation is worth recognition. So I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Schumer getting this done. And I want to urge Congress to use the time this bill provides to work toward a bipartisan agreement on a full-year funding bill that makes the needed investments in our economy and our people,” he said.

Both chambers of Congress passed the continuing resolution on Thursday that will kick the can of keeping the government open down the road until mid-February, averting a shutdown even after a small group of Senate Republicans threatened to stall the legislation in protest of Biden’s vaccine mandate for federal workers.

The small contingent of GOP senators, fronted by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, insisted that the Senate consider an amendment to the stopgap funding bill that would have effectively zeroed out funding to support the mandate.

Debate between Senate leaders about whether to allow such a vote nearly ground the upper chamber to a halt and threatened to cause time-consuming procedural delays that would have led to a temporary shutdown — but late Thursday night, a deal was reached to allow a vote on the amendment and on final passage.

“I am glad that in the end cooler heads prevailed. The government will stay open and I thank the members of this chamber for walking us back from the brink of an avoidable needless and costly shutdown,” Schumer said just before the votes were taken.

Efforts to strip funds for the mandate failed, with two Republicans absent for the vote, but the short-term spending bill passed. Nineteen Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voted with Democrats after the House approved the bill largely along party lines — other than the support of a single Republican, retiring Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

Sometime next week, the Senate will take another vote on overturning Biden’s vaccine mandate. The effort has been backed by moderate Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and is expected to pass the upper chamber, though it likely won’t get a vote in the Democrat-controlled House.

To avert a future shutdown, Congress will need to pass another short-term spending bill before Feb. 18 or pass a package of large appropriations bills that have been caught up in negotiation for months.