U.S. Averts Government: In a dramatic turn of events, the United States narrowly avoided a potentially disruptive and costly shutdown of federal agencies as Congress swiftly passed compromise legislation aimed at keeping the government operational until November 17. This legislative move provides both Democrats and Republicans with a window of opportunity to engage in more extended discussions regarding federal funding. Notably, the bill does not include new funding provisions for Ukraine, a point of concern for some. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the bill, marking the culmination of a whirlwind day in Washington.
A Midnight Deadline is averted.
The legislation received approval in both chambers of Congress on a Saturday, mere hours before a midnight deadline that could have led to a government funding lapse. President Biden, in a statement following the passage of the bill, commended the bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate, emphasizing that this action prevents an unnecessary crisis that would have adversely affected millions of hardworking Americans.
Speaker McCarthy Takes Charge
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy played a pivotal role earlier in the day by taking a stand against far-right Republicans who had threatened to remove him from leadership unless he supported a government shutdown. McCarthy’s decision to push for a last-minute compromise was seen as an effort to act in the best interest of the nation and avoid an unpopular government shutdown. In response to critics, McCarthy stated, “If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try.”
Swift Bipartisan Action
In an unusual display of swift action in the typically slow-moving Capitol, the bill successfully navigated both chambers of Congress in less than 12 hours. Representative Guy Reschenthaler aptly described the day’s proceedings as a “total roller coaster.”
Economic and Global Implications
The possibility of a government shutdown has been closely watched by Americans and global investors in recent days. Even a short-term funding breach could have halted numerous federal functions and paychecks. Economists also warned that a prolonged shutdown could hinder the Federal Reserve’s efforts to combat inflation without causing widespread job losses. Additionally, concerns mounted over how an impasse could further damage perceptions of U.S. governance on the global stage.
A Bipartisan Victory
The newly passed legislation, devoid of deep spending cuts and border policies demanded by Republican hardliners, represents a rare bipartisan victory in the midst of a deeply divided Washington. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noted that “MAGA Republicans won nothing” after attempting to take the government hostage.
The Ukraine Aid Dilemma
One significant omission in the bill is funding for Ukraine. This absence of aid deals a blow to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who had recently met with President Biden and lawmakers, personally appealing for new weapons systems. The requested aid includes F-16 fighter jets and longer-range ATACMS missiles. While Biden and other lawmakers assured Ukraine of ongoing support, the bill’s exclusion of Ukraine aid for now underscores the challenges in addressing this issue.
A Pledge of Support for Ukraine
The United States has provided substantial financial support to Ukraine since the Russian invasion last year, totaling $44 billion. President Biden has requested an additional $24 billion to replenish accounts that the Pentagon states are nearly depleted. Biden emphasized the commitment to Ukraine’s war effort, with House Speaker McCarthy pledging to pass a separate Ukraine aid package.
Overwhelming Support in Congress
The bill secured a Senate vote of 88-9, following an earlier House vote that witnessed broad support, with nearly all Democrats and more than half of Republicans backing the legislation. Notably, the legislation includes $16 billion in disaster relief funding, although the issue of Ukraine aid will be handled separately by lawmakers from both parties who support its provision.