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Congress Avoids Government Shutdown and Far Right Budget Demands — for Now

The agreement funds the government for 45 days and includes $16 billion in disaster relief for New York City flooding.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy walks to the House Chamber before a vote on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 30, 2023.

A government shutdown was averted Saturday night after the Senate voted 89 to 9 to approve a stopgap spending measure passed by the House of Representatives that afternoon.

The agreement funds the government for 45 days and includes an additional $16 billion in disaster funding as New York City mops up from flash flooding following an extreme rain storm. It does not include aid for Ukraine.

“It has been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the Senate floor. “There will be no government shutdown.”

The bill now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature.

“This is good news for the American people,” Biden said in a statement. “But I want to be clear: We never should have been in this position in the first place.”

Biden criticized far-right Republicans in the House for demanding cuts beyond what the president had negotiated with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in a deal that progressives had already criticized for slashing programs for needy Americans and pushing through the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline.

“They failed,” Biden said of the far-right bloc.

MoveOn executive director Rahna Epting pointed out on social media that “this entire crisis was a GOP manufactured one.”

“The Republican controlled House of Reps couldn’t get their act together, and their endless infighting only transpired into bare minimum alignment at the 11th hour,” Epting said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) celebrated the fact that the far-right bid to enshrine even steeper cuts to the social safety net did not succeed.

“I’m delighted that Congress was able to avoid a painful and unnecessary shutdown,” he tweeted. “I’m also pleased that programs working families need were not cut and that there was a good increase in funds for disaster relief which will help Vermonters rebuild from July’s terrible flooding.”

Sen John Fetterman (D-Pa.), however, pointed out that the Republicans could force a similar crisis again on November 17 when the stopgap agreement expires.

“I voted at 8:30 pm on a Saturday night, that’s my job. But the American people should never have to worry about their government shutting down,” Fetterman posted on social media. “Pushing the snooze button solves nothing, because these same losers will try to pull the same shit in 45 days.”

“I voted yes tonight to keep the government open, but I’m done normalizing this dysfunction,” he continued. “This is not entertainment, it’s governance. We must not allow the Freedom Caucus to turn our government into The Steve Wilkos Show.

Epting also expressed concern about what would happen when the deal expired.

“We do this all over again in 45 days, and Republicans will shut the government down then,” Epting said. “This likely leads to more instability and extremism in the House as the far right will try to remove McCarthy over this. If we elect clowns, we get a circus.”

Before the larger budget fight, Congress is now poised to take up the question of additional funding for Ukraine, something Biden, Schumer, and Sanders all flagged as a priority.

House Democratic leadership also said they expected a House vote on Ukraine funding soon in a statement reported by Jake Sherman of Punchbowl News.

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