The U.S. Senate narrowly avoided a government shutdown Saturday by voting 88-9 in favor of a stopgap spending bill, ensuring federal government funding until Nov. 17. President Biden promptly signed the bill into law hours before the 12:01 a.m. deadline on Sunday.
If the deadline was not met, essential government operations continue, while federal agencies devise contingency plans specifying which functions persist, cease, and how many employees are furloughed until the shutdown concludes.
The House and Senate have adjourned until Monday, with negotiations expected to resume upon their return, as they need to pass another spending bill before departing for Thanksgiving, giving them more than a month to finalize the provisions for a long-term spending bill.
The legislation allocates $16 billion in emergency disaster assistance, a request made by the White House, and also extends the Federal Aviation Administration's authorization and funding until the year's end. The FAA is responsible for regulating and overseeing civil aviation activities to ensure safety, efficiency, and environmental sustainability.
Despite broad bipartisan Senate support for such funding, it does not provide additional aid to Ukraine. Since the war began, the U.S. has directed more than $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine.
Biden commended the legislation and urged Congress to promptly address the funding shortfall for Ukraine.
"We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted," Biden said in a statement Saturday. "I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment."
The unexpected consensus in Congress concerning spending marks a significant change, especially considering that House Republicans made little progress for weeks due to disagreements on the bill. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California, unveiled the stopgap spending bill on Saturday morning following a private meeting with other House Republicans.
The Senate vote occurred after an hours-long delay, partly led by Senator Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Colorado. Bennet insisted on a strong commitment from leaders in both political parties regarding aid for Ukraine.
The Senate vote marked the conclusion of a day with many deliberations in Congress leading up to the shutdown deadline.
Earlier Saturday before the Senate vote, the House overwhelmingly voted 335-91 in favor of the the bill McCarthy had refused for weeks to consider any spending bill that depended on Democratic support. However, faced with the potential of a government shutdown, McCarthy reversed his stance and called on Democrats to assist in passing the bill.
More democrats than republicans supported the measure. Out of the 91 representatives who voted against the bill, 90 were republicans.