House passes government spending bill, kicking shutdown fight to Senate


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rushed through the passage of a short-term funding bill Thursday to keep the government open until mid-February, but the vote likely came too late to prevent a brief shutdown at the end of the week.

In a 221-to-212 vote, the House passed a bill keeping government funding at Trump-era levels until Feb. 18, apart from an additional $7 billion earmarked for Afghan refugee resettlement.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure that the government functions,” said Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat. “Our Members, whether they are here or they are home, stand ready to keep the government open.”

Every single Democrat voted in favor of the bill along with one Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. It now heads to the 50-50 split Senate where a standoff is brewing over Democratic leaders and a group of conservative lawmakers.

Five GOP senators are threatening to use an arsenal of legislative procedures to delay consideration of a short-term funding bill unless it strips out funding to enforce the mandate. The Republicans hope to delay a vote until after Friday — the date by which Congress must pass a spending bill to keep the government open.

“President Biden is waging a cruel campaign to punish unvaccinated Americans,” said Sen. Roger Marshall, Kansas Republican. “My colleagues and I will use all means at our disposal to make sure no American has to choose between jab or job.”

Provided the opposition holds, Senate rules will force Mr. Schumer to wait at least two days to break a filibuster on the bill. If the effort succeeds, which by all estimates it will, the Senate will then debate the legislation for at least 30 hours before a final vote.

The time frame puts lawmakers well past the Dec. 3 deadline, meaning the earliest the bill could pass would be over the weekend or next Monday. All of that is contingent upon whether the five Republicans use other procedural motions to prolong the debate.

Sen. Mike Lee, Utah Republican, said GOP senators would end their opposition if the funding bill specifically includes language prohibiting the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from enforcing Mr. Biden’s vaccine mandate on workers at large businesses.

The Republican rebels want to see the provision added into the bill from the floor using the amendment process. For that compromise to be acceptable, they want the amendment to pass by a simple majority, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold.

“I just want a vote on one amendment. I want the members of this body to go on record on whether they support funding in this bill President Biden’s vaccine mandate,” said Mr. Lee. “The American people have a right to know through our votes where we stand.”

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer is refusing to meet the demands.

“All that’s left are a few lone holdouts raising objections that are doomed to fail and which can be debated elsewhere,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “There’s no reason we should have a Republican shutdown.”

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