Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

U.S. government enters a partial government shutdown as Senate works to pass a deal

By 37ci3 Mar23,2024

WASHINGTON — The federal government was partially shut down Saturday morning after Congress failed to pass legislation in time to keep many departments and agencies open.

The shutdown is expected to be brief and have little impact, but Senate leaders announced early Saturday morning that they had agreed to vote on the funding package.

The House of Representatives voted to pass it Friday morning $1.2 trillion spending bill Funding for the departments of State, Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, among others. But amid Republican demands for an amendment, the Senate failed to agree on an early midnight vote to fund those departments.

The Senate said Friday it had enough support to push the bill to the finish line after a 78-18 procedural vote advancing the measure. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced shortly before the deadline that both sides had agreed to a series of amendments and then a vote on final passage of the bill early Saturday morning.

Barring unexpected problems, the shutdown will have little impact. If it had continued through Monday, it would have led to furloughs and shutdowns of various federal services with “essential” workers such as air traffic controllers and TSA agents.

“It’s been a very long and difficult day, but we’ve reached an agreement to get the government funding done,” Schumer said on the Senate floor just before midnight. “It’s good for the country that we’ve reached this bipartisan agreement.”

A divided Congress has avoided multiple shutdowns this session by passing four recess bills that continue to extend the deadline. And with nearly six months left in the fiscal year, haggling over funding measures is unusually late in the game. The latest bill was released Thursday and passed the House on Friday morning, leaving little time for the Senate to act.

To quickly vote on legislation, all 100 senators must agree to expedite the process, and senators typically agree to a group messaging amendment vote to reduce the amount of procedural time required to complete consideration of a bill.

Those talks fell apart Friday afternoon, with Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., claiming the deal was scuttled by sensitive Democrats in key Senate races who said they were unwilling to vote on possible amendments. used against them in re-election campaigns.

“The bottom line is that Democratic senators running for re-election are afraid to vote on the amendments,” Cotton told reporters, adding without providing evidence: “John Tester said he would rather have the government shut down and vote on Sunday night, then vote on these amendments for you. “

But Tester, a Democrat in a tight re-election race that could determine the Senate majority in the red state of Montana, fired back, telling NBC News, “That’s bulls—.”

The two senators went back and forth as they spoke to different groups of reporters standing a few feet apart on the Senate floor.

“Cotton said they made adjustments because of Jon Tester?” During the exchange, the tester yelled at Cotton. “Because if he did, he might be full of something that came off a cow’s back.”

Senators have been frustrated that Congress has been able to avert a deficit many times this fiscal year alone, but they have struggled to do so in the last one this fiscal year.

“It makes me sick,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said in an interview, adding that she “felt like I ate too much sugar and bad pizza” after serving the dishes to Senate Republicans for lunch.

“If we had salmon, we would think because we have all these wonderful omega 3s,” he said. “We’re just—we’re a candy pizza mess, we’re acting like teenage boys.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., told reporters: “Failure to fund the government tonight means everybody loses, and everybody loses a lot. “There is no winner in coming out of a disaster like not being able to fund the government.”

“You know, you can criticize the House and the House leadership enough, but the House figured out how to move a bill today,” Murkowksi said Friday. “The House of Representatives will not be responsible for the government shutdown, it will be in the United States Senate. We know better than that.”

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By 37ci3

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