Government shutdown averted: Congress passes temporary funding bill with hours to spare, Biden signs it

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WASHINGTON−Crisis averted. For now. For about a month and a half.

The country came within two hours of a federal government shutdown, but in a day with multiple twists Congress ultimately passed a temporary plan to keep the lights on until mid-November.

A continuing resolution, the temporary stopgap measure, passed the House Saturday afternoon and the Senate Saturday night. President Joe Biden signed it shortly before midnight.

The work is not done, and lawmakers will return Monday to continue hashing out annual spending bills.

Congress remains divided on the biggest fight in the shutdown showdown: providing more Ukraine aid. Democrats and some Republicans have called to approve more money to help Ukraine fight against the Russian invasion, but some Republicans want to stop providing aid and instead focus on securing America's southern border.

US Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California, celebrates after meeting with House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Democrat of New York, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on September 30, 2023. Last-gasp moves to prevent a US government shutdown took a dramatic step forward Saturday, as Democrats overwhelmingly backed an eleventh-hour Republican measure to keep federal funding going for 45 days, albeit with a freeze on aid to Ukraine. The stopgap proposal adopted by the House of Representatives with a vote of 335-91 was pitched by McCarthy. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Senate passes short-term stopgap, averting government shutdown

The Senate approved the House's short-term stopgap measure to extend government funding levels through Nov. 17 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 88-9.

President Joe Biden signed it shortly before midnight, successfully averting a government shutdown.

− Ken Tran

Will Senate Majority Chuck Schumer pass the deal too?

After the House shocked the country and passed a short-term deal to keep the government's doors open until mid-November, all eyes are on the Senate to sign off on the measure.

But the Senate can't pass their own deal to avoid a government shutdown. Both chambers have to pass the same agreement to avoid a government shutdown, with the same details to keep funding flowing.

– Marina Pitofsky

How long is the government funded? 

Lawmakers on Saturday passed a continuing resolution, which is a temporary funding plan that buys lawmakers more time to negotiate spending legislation for the country.

The continuing resolution House lawmakers passed keeps the government funded for another 45 days. While the Senate hasn’t voted on the legislation yet, they’re expected to take it up Saturday evening.

If at the end of that 45-day period Congress hasn’t come up with another temporary solution, or actually approved the dozen spending bills that would grant the government longer-term funding, the nation will be facing another government shutdown.

– Marina Pitofsky 

House Democrats take victory lap after chamber passes 45-day, short-term funding measure

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., celebrated the passage of the 45-day, short-term measure that will keep the government funded at current levels, saying “the extreme MAGA Republicans have lost.”

“The American people have won. The extreme MAGA Republicans have lost,” Jeffries said at a press conference. “It was a victory for the American people and a complete and total surrender by right-wing extremists who throughout the year have attempted to hijack the Congress.”

House Minority Whip, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said McCarthy “admitted defeat,” when he put the measure on the floor.

“Speaker McCarthy admitted defeat and asked Democrats to put out the fire that he and his party had started,” Clark said.

− Ken Tran

In significant step towards averting government shutdown, House passes 45-day stopgap measure

The House made significant progress towards averting a government shutdown, with lawmakers passing a short-term stopgap measure to keep the government funded for 45 days at current levels. The funding package includes President Joe Biden’s request for $16 billion in additional disaster relief funding, but omits his request for more U.S. aid to Ukraine.

The bill, which had to pass with two-thirds of the chamber, earned bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans.

While it is unclear if the Senate will approve the measure, the stopgap marks a significant shift in strategy from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to cooperate with Democrats, after his previous insistence on passing a stopgap bill along party-lines.

– Ken Tran

House Democrats: 'I think we won'

House Democrats are largely expected to support a temporary measure to keep the government open with funding at current levels. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., told reporters before entering the chamber that the stopgap "is a bill that Democrats can support."While GOP lawmakers were consumed by infighting, House Democrats repeatedly urged House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., to put the short-term deal on the floor. The 45-day extension, McGovern said, is a sign Democrats "won."– Ken Tran

House begins vote on stopgap measure

House lawmakers are now voting on the 45-day short-term stopgap measure to keep the government open.If passed, the Senate will have to take up the bill and vote on it to avert a shutdown.– Ken Tran

President Joe Biden won’t meet with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy before government shuts down

The White House said Friday that President Joe Biden will not meet with McCarthy to negotiate a deal before the government shuts down, demanding that House Republicans act to avoid a crisis of their making.

“The conversation that needs to happen is between speaker McCarthy and his caucus,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.

Biden plans to spend the weekend in Washington and will be in touch with members of Congress, the White House said. The House voted Friday afternoon to defeat a resolution backed by hardline Republicans to keep the government operating for 30 days in exchange for 30% cuts that the White House warned would be “devastating.”

−Joey Garrison and Francesca Chambers

Democratic Rep. Jamaal Bowman accused of pulling fire alarm in House office building

As Democrats worked to delay a vote on the stopgap measure, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., was accused of pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon House office building, according to Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wis., chair of the House Administration Committee.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Steil said "an investigation is currently underway."

USA TODAY has reached out to Bowman's office for comment.

– Ken Tran

How long was the longest government shutdown?

The longest government shutdown lasted 35 days. Spanning from Dec. 22, 2018 to Jan. 25, 2019, it is also the most recent federal shutdown in U.S. history.

It was the third federal shutdown to occur during former President Donald Trump's administration; the first lasted three days in January 2018, and the second lasted only a few hours in February 2018.

− Olivia Munson

Democrats on Senate floor urge colleagues to prevent shutdown, stand with Ukraine

Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., on Saturday urged House members to stand with the people of Ukraine and provide aid to the country.

“The Republican House leadership is not only trying to remove all assistance for Ukraine, but literally trying to prevent our Defense Department, our State Department and other agencies from transferring already existing funds to those necessary areas that are gonna be most in jeopardy if we walk away from Ukraine at this moment in time,” he said on the Senate floor.

“We need to stand up for Ukraine,” he added.

In an effort to avoid a shutdown, Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., also urged her colleagues to keep moving the Senate’s bipartisan continuing resolution forward.

The shutdown “will hurt our families. It will hurt our economy. And it will hurt our national security,” Murray warned.

− Sudiksha Kochi

House Democrats continue to stall vote to read through temporary measure

In a bid to buy more time for House Democrats to read a 71-page stopgap measure proposed by House Republicans to keep the government runing, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., is using what is referred to as a "magic minute" to delay the vote.Under House rules, leadership is able to speak for an unlimited amount of time. McCarthy in November 2021 spoke for over eight hours to delay Biden's "Build Back Better" bill."Strap in, because this may take a while," Jeffries said on the House floor.– Ken Tran

Will schools be affected by a government shutdown?

Most K-12 schools won't be immediately impacted by a government shutdown. While schools across the country do receive some federal funding, the vast majority of their budgets come from their state and local governments.

Schools that do use federal funding have mostly already received money for the 2023-2024 school year, Education Week reported.

But some programs for kids would be hit by a government shutdown. For example, Children from low-income families could lose access to Head Start preschool programs.

− Marina Pitofsky

Latest updates on government shutdown: McCarthy blames Dems

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Saturday afternoon said he's going to be "the adult in the room," immediately pointing the finger at Senate Democrats, the White House and hardline House conservatives like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., for why the shutdown threat continues.

He said the House is moving a 45-day continuing resolution that would keep troops paid, the Federal Aviation Administration funded and pay for disaster relief in Maui and elsewhere.

As House Democrats asked for more time to consider that bill, McCarthy questioned whether President Joe Biden and the White House are urging House Democrats to vote for or against the short-term spending measure.

The Senate, McCarthy said, has not done its work. But most of the shutdown threat has come from House Republican infighting. Senators will vote on their version of a continuing resolution Saturday afternoon.

−Candy Woodall

McCarthy says he's not worried about losing his job

A defiant and determined House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters early Saturday afternoon he's not afraid of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., or other members of his right flank threatening to remove him.

"If somebody wants to remove me for putting Americans first then so be it," McCarthy said.

Gaetz has threatened to file a motion to vacate the speaker if McCarthy works with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution that would extend current funding levels, avert a shutdown and give lawmakers more time to work on spending bills.

−Candy Woodall

House Democrats delay vote, citing 'trust issues'

House Democrats are delaying a vote on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's 45-day continuing resolution, a short-term measure designed to keep the government funded, in order to read the bill.House Minority Whip Katherine Clark, D-Mass., said on the House floor there are "trust issues" with Republicans.To buy them more time to read the 71-page bill, Democrats filed a motion to adjourn. Democratic lawmakers have slowly been trickling in to the chamber to vote, further delaying the bill to peruse the stopgap measure.−Ken Tran

House to vote on short-term funding measure

Exiting a conference meeting, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told reporters a short-term stopgap measure will be considered on the House floor Saturday.The stopgap bill would maintain current government funding levels for 45 days and include President Joe Biden's request for disaster relief funding, but no additional aid to Ukraine.The measure, which will be considered under suspension to expedite the process, will require two-thirds of the chamber to be approved, meaning Democrats will have to support the measure.−Ken Tran

Stopgap measure likely to trigger motion to oust Speaker McCarthy

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's move to vote on a 45-day short-term stopgap measure that would avert a government shutdown could inflame another fight in the House.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., could follow through on his threat to file a motion to vacate in an attempt to boot McCarthy from the speakership.

The stopgap, considered a "clean continuing resolution" would maintain current funding levels to buy more time for lawmakers to pass a more fleshed-out spending deal.

Gaetz has threatened to move to eject McCarthy from the speakership if he puts a clean stopgap on the floor and told USA TODAY Saturday morning his position has not changed and called the measure a "white flag of surrender."

"It looks a lot like a white flag of surrender to me," Gaetz said, accusing McCarthy of surrendering to Democrats and President Joe Biden.

−Ken Tran

Issa: Focus to 'mitigate' effects of a shutdown, not avert one

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., leaving a closed-door conference meeting Saturday morning, told reporters there are a handful of hardline conservatives who won't vote for a stopgap measure under any circumstances. The focus now, he said, is to mitigate the effects of a shutdown.House Republicans will look at what is "passable" on the floor, suggesting the House will vote to sustain troop pay and reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Agency first."It is our obligation to anticipate and do whatever we can to mitigate it," Issa said.– Ken Tran

What causes a government shutdown?

A government shutdown takes place when Congress is unable to pass a dozen annual spending bills that funnel money to government programs and agencies.

A shutdown is likely when both chambers in Congress − the House and Senate − can’t come to an agreement on how much money to allocate to certain agencies or agree on certain spending provisions, putting federal agencies at risk. A partial government shutdown can occur if Congress is able to pass any of the 12 individual spending bills.

When both chambers can't reach a compromise, funding levels expire and federal agencies must cease all non-essential function.

−Rachel Looker

Who is causing the government shutdown?

The biggest fight comes from a small group of House conservatives who have been impeding nearly all progress toward funding the government.

These House conservatives make up a small portion of the House GOP conference and represent a sliver of the country, but they have outsized power because of the razor-thin House Republican majority. The GOP has a four-seat majority, and these hard-line conservatives have been leveraging their critical votes to extract deep spending cuts that won't pass the Democratic-controlled Senate − or even some moderate GOP lawmakers.

The most vocal of this handful is Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., who has threatened to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., if he works with Democrats to pass a continuing resolution that would avert a shutdown and give lawmakers extra time to pass spending bills.

Their refusal to entertain anything less than their demands has embroiled the House in chaos for the last few weeks.

−Ken Tran and Rachel Looker

When will the government shutdown start?

The U.S. government will shut down at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 if lawmakers don't pass a continuing resolution or a federal budget by Sept. 30.

The continuing resolution, a stopgap measure that would temporarily fund the government while lawmakers work to pass a comprehensive budget, would prevent a shutdown from occurring on Oct. 1.

−Sudiksha Kochi

Would a government shutdown affect air travel and TSA?

Flights will likely not be affected by a shutdown and TSA screenings should proceed normally. Transportation Security Administration agents and air traffic controllers are considered essential and will continue working, though they won’t be paid.

However, during the 2019 shutdown, air traffic controllers started calling in sick at higher rates which might occur again this time around. The White House warned that a shutdown could risk delays for travelers.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg also said in a press conference that air traffic controller hiring and training would be paused, which would impact the Department of Transportation’s efforts to address a shortfall in staffing.

Zach Wichter and Sudiksha Kochi

Will Social Security be paid during a government shutdown?

Social Security recipients will continue to receive checks in the event of a government shutdown and Medicare benefits will not be interrupted.

However, employees in the Social Security Administration are likely to be furloughed and government food assistance benefits could see delay.

A few services that are not directly related to Social Security payment benefits and direct-service operations would be temporarily suspended.

− Marina Pitofsky and Sudiksha Kochi

Will Yosemite or other national parks close if there is a government shutdown?

The Biden administration said Friday it will be forced to close the majority of national parks if the government shuts down at the end of the week resulting in funding to lapse.

“Gates will be locked, visitor centers will be closed, and thousands of park rangers will be furloughed” at national parks across the country, the Interior Department said in a statement. The public will be encouraged not to visit park sites during a shutdown.

The National Mall in Washington, Washington Monument and other park sites that are “physically accessible” to the public will remain accessible but staffing will vary site to site and not be guaranteed.

The National Park System has 425 individual sites that includes 63 national parks made up of iconic landmarks like the Grand Canyon National Park, Everglades National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

-Joey Garrison

What happens in a government shutdown?

Millions of Americans would be impacted by a government shutdown.

Federal workers would be furloughed without pay. "Essential" federal workers, such as those who work for the Federal Aviation Administration, would work without pay − but would receive backpay once a shutdown ends. Numerous subcontractors would be out of work and would not receive backpay.

The impact would stretch far beyond federal workers though. It would also be felt in millions of homes across America.

Here are some ways a government shutdown would impact your family:

  • Funding for WIC − the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children − would stop immediately

  • Food stamp benefits through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program would remain intact in October but could be impacted after that

  • Children from low-income families would lose access to Head Start preschool programs

  • College students could see delays in their student loans

  • The Food and Drug Administration would delay nonessential food safety inspections

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration would limit its work

  • Travelers could see delays with receiving passports

  • National parks could close

  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would have no money for disaster relief

  • Agencies that publish government data, such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, will close up shop. That means investors and other market-watchers might not get to see the jobs report scheduled for October 6 or the monthly Consumer Price Index update on October 12

  • The Securities and Exchange Commission would scale back operations, potentially delaying work on initial public offerings, which require federal scrutiny. Birkenstock, the sandal brand, has signaled it expects to proceed with its October IPO

−Candy Woodall and Daniel de Vise

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shutdown averted: Congress passes short-term solution with hours to go