The Senate took a major step to avoid a shutdown, voting to support a continuing resolution to fund the government through mid-December.
In a 77-19 vote on Monday, the Senate voted to advance Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) stopgap legislation, clearing the path for a final vote that would move the bill out of the chamber and over to the House for consideration. That vote is expected to happen Sept. 29.
The legislation would keep federal agencies funded at 2015 levels until Dec. 11. It also includes funding for Planned Parenthood.
McConnell called the measure “the only viable way forward in the short term,” reports the Associated Press. “It doesn’t represent my first, second, third or 23rd choice when it comes to funding the government, but it will keep the government open through the fall.”
In a statement from the White House, the administration said it supported the bill’s passage, which provides “a short-term bridge” to give Congress time to pass a budget for the rest of fiscal 2016. Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass a funding bill to avoid a government shutdown.
The vote comes just days after House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) surprising announcement that he would be leaving Congress at the end of October.
In an interview on In Depth with Francis Rose, Roll Call Senior Editor David Hawkings said Boehner bought Congress “10 weeks of peace” with his resignation; however, it’s “a pretty large sacrifice for 10 small weeks of relative calm.”
Some members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus have called on Congress to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding — at the risk of a budgetary stalemate and government shutdown.
“I think the drama is gone from this week,” Hawkings said. “I think that people who were worried about their agencies and programs staying open come December need to pay attention to how quickly this Republican leadership thing is settled, because the longer it goes on … the longer they go without picking a new speaker, a new leadership team … the longer all that goes on, the longer we stay in limbo heading toward Dec. 10.”
While Congress continues toward its legislative deadline, employee advocates are also voicing their concerns to reach an agreement on funding.
In a statement from the National Treasury Employees Union, National President Tony Reardon reiterated the union’s stance that a shutdown “benefits no one and achieves nothing.”
“All it will do is create financial anxiety and hardship for federal employees, infuriate the American public and hurt the economy,” Reardon said. “I am urging Congress to do the right thing and allow the nation’s work to continue.”
The Senate last week voted 47-52 to reject a stopgap measure that would have kept the government open through mid-December but redirect $235 million in Planned Parenthood federal funding to women’s health centers instead.