The United States Senate has averted a government shutdown by passing a stopgap funding bill that also includes billions of dollars in emergency aid for Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
Senators approved the bill by a vote of 72 to 25, just one day before the federal government’s coffers ran dry.
The bill, known as a continuing resolution, now goes to the House of Representatives, where lawmakers are expected to quickly send it to President Joe Biden’s desk, where his signature will provide funding to the federal government until December 16.
In addition to passing the bill, lawmakers agreed to provide Ukraine with $12.3 billion in aid, including training, equipment, weapons, and logistics assistance, as well as direct funds for the central government.
It also includes $18.8 billion for FEMA’s disaster relief fund, $1 billion to assist low-income households in covering heating costs, $2.5 billion for communities in New Mexico affected by wildfires, $2 billion for communities impacted by recent disasters, and $20 million for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Jackson, Miss.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York urged lawmakers on the Senate floor Thursday to pass the bill on the basis of its contents. He claims it’s “full of many good things that both sides can support,” such as funding for Ukraine and lower heating bills.
“A pointless government shutdown is the last thing the American people need right now. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to avoid one before the funding deadline “He stated.
Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, also voted in favor of the resolution, citing its funding for Ukraine as necessary to protect the national security of the United States and its allies.
According to him, the funding will help Ukraine reduce Russia’s ability to threaten other countries while deterring other authoritarian regimes, particularly China.
“Ukraine requires more tanks, fighting vehicles, longer-range rockets, artillery, and air defense systems, as well as more HIMARs, drones, and training in western fighter aircraft. And they require these items as soon as possible “He stated.
Following weeks of negotiations, Democrats abandoned efforts to include funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and the monkeypox outbreak, as well as funds for Sen. Joe Manchin’s (D-WVa.) energy infrastructure project proposal.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said before the vote that he was “disappointed” that the ongoing medical concerns were not addressed in the bill due to Republican objections, but that there will be time to push them forward.
“This is only a stopgap measure,” he explained. “I am committed to completing the Committee’s work before the end of this Congress.”
Despite the fact that his proposal was dropped, Manchin voted in favor of the continuing resolution and issued a statement urging other lawmakers to work together to keep the government from shutting down.
“We have a responsibility to prevent economic disaster for the American people,” he said. “I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue working toward a compromise on FY23 funding to avoid yet another extension that harms the American people and our priorities.”