Congress clears bill to avert shutdown, with vote promised later on Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON — Congress approved a bill Saturday night that would stave
off a government shutdown until at least mid-November, though the
measure doesn’t include Ukraine aid backed by both Republicans and
Democrats.

The bipartisan 88-9 vote in the U.S. Senate, just hours before a
midnight deadline, took place after the U.S. House earlier in the day voted 335-91
to approve the legislation, with the support of members of both
parties. President Joe Biden was expected to sign it into law later
Saturday night.

Republican senators voting no included Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee,
Mike Braun of Indiana, Ted Cruz of Texas, Bill Hagerty of Tennessee,
Mike Lee of Utah, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Eric
Schmitt of Missouri and J. D. Vance of Ohio.

Both of Arizona’s senators, Democrat Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema,
an independent, voted for the stopgap spending plan. In the House,
Republican Rep. Juan Ciscomani joined the three Democrats — Ruben
Gallego, Raul Grijalva and Greg Stanton — in supporting the legislation.
Republican Reps. Andy Biggs, Eli Crane, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko and
David Schweikert all voted against the deal.

The stopgap spending legislation, unveiled Saturday morning in the
House, does not provide any additional funding for military relief or
humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The Senate’s original short-term funding
bill had included $6.1 billion, which was significantly less than the
$24 billion the Biden administration requested in August. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this month traveled to Capitol Hill to meet with lawmakers to reiterate the need for continued aid to support his country’s fight against the Russian invasion.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said he
would put a supplemental spending bill for Ukraine on the floor as soon
as next week.

“This is a bridge CR and Leader McConnell and I have agreed to
continue fighting for more economic and security aid for Ukraine,”
Schumer said. “We support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty
against Putin’s aggression.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said
he expected the Senate would approve aid for Ukraine before the end of
the year.

“Most Senate Republicans remain committed to helping our friends on
the front lines, to investing more heavily in American strength that
reinforces our allies and deterring our top strategic adversary, China,”
McConnell said. “I’m confident the Senate will pass further urgent
assistance to Ukraine later this year.”

House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Whip Katherine Clark, Caucus
Chair Pete Aguilar and Vice Chair Ted Lieu all called on House
Republicans to put a Ukraine assistance bill up for a vote.

“​​When the House returns, we expect Speaker McCarthy to advance a
bill to the House Floor for an up-or-down vote that supports Ukraine,
consistent with his commitment to making sure that Vladimir Putin,
Russia and authoritarianism are defeated,” they said in a joint
statement.

Senate Republicans announced mid-day they would not support moving
ahead with the original CR that included assistance for Ukraine.
McConnell has been a vocal proponent of additional military and
humanitarian aid for the country.

The Kentucky Republican told reporters that he had instructed GOP
senators to vote against advancing the Senate’s own stopgap spending
bill toward final passage.

“It looks like there may be a bipartisan agreement coming from the
House,” McConnell said. “So I’m fairly confident that most of my
members, our members, are going to vote against cloture — not
necessarily because they’re opposed to the underlying bill, but to see what the House can do on a bipartisan basis, and then bring it over to us.”

A motion to adjourn, a fire alarm and a ‘magic minute’

House passage of the continuing resolution, or CR, came amid a hectic day on Capitol Hill.

Republicans began the morning huddling in a basement room of the Capitol to plot a path ahead, after failing to pass a separate stopgap spending bill Friday.

GOP leaders then brought the floor into session, giving just 40
minutes for debate on a new stopgap spending bill and infuriating
Democrats, who argued they hadn’t been given time to read the 71-page
measure.

“We have had 15 minutes to review a 71-page document,” House
Appropriations Committee ranking member Rosa DeLauro said. “A document
that was filed before midnight last night. There hasn’t been any time
for staff to review a 71-page document on such an important issue.”

House Democratic Whip Katherine Clark, of Massachusetts, got more
time for lawmakers to read the legislation before the House took the
final vote by making a motion to adjourn.

Democrats were able to extend what should have been a 15-minute vote
by waiting until it was almost over, then lining up on the House floor
to vote on paper cards one-by-one, instead of electronically with their
voting cards.

The final vote, which took about an hour, rejected the motion to
adjourn, 0-427 after Democrats voted with Republicans to stay in
session.

“We have just received a 71-page bill that is about keeping open our
federal government, something the Democrats have been pushing for
months,” Clark said before the vote began. “We are asking for 90 minutes
to be able to read this bill and come to the floor with an informed
vote. That has been denied. We have serious trust issues, so at this
point in time, I am making a motion to adjourn.”

Adding to the feeling of chaos, New York Democratic Rep. Jamaal
Bowman pulled a fire alarm in one of the House office buildings around
noon as the vote on the motion to adjourn was beginning, causing the
alarm to go off and for the building to be evacuated. The U.S. Capitol
Police weren’t able to clear the building for reopening until more than
an hour later.

His chief of staff said in a written statement posted to X
that “Congressman Bowman did not realize he would trigger a building
alarm as he was rushing to make an urgent vote. The Congressman regrets
any confusion.”

After the vote on adjourning wrapped up, House Minority Leader Hakeem
Jeffries, a New York Democrat, delivered a so-called “magic minute”
floor speech. As a member of leadership he can speak as long as he wants
and it only subtracts one minute from Democrats’ total debate time.

The tactic has been used by both Democratic and Republican leaders to
bring attention to an issue or to delay a final vote. Slowing down the
vote on Saturday was intended to give Democrats more time to read the
bill and appeared to also give congressional leaders time to determine
how to move forward on the new continuing resolution.

The speech lasted about an hour, after which the House debated the
legislation a bit longer, before sending it over to their Senate
colleagues with just hours to go.

Far-right members of the House Republican Conference have been
threatening to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy if he relied on
Democrats to pass a short-term spending bill. But none of those members
brought up the so-called motion to vacate on Saturday. The House after
its vote adjourned until Monday.

Disaster relief, FAA extension

Senators had been slowly advancing their own bipartisan spending bill since releasing it Tuesday,
though without the agreement of all 100 lawmakers in that chamber, the
bill wouldn’t have become law before the Saturday midnight deadline.

The 71-page stopgap bill
in the House released Saturday would fund the government through
Friday, Nov. 17 and extend the authorization for the Federal Aviation
Administration through Dec. 31.

It would provide $16 billion for the Federal Emergency Management
Agency’s disaster relief fund, the primary account for disaster relief
and response. Wildland firefighters would not see a pay cut that was
scheduled to begin on Oct. 1.

House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger, a Texas Republican, urged
support for the legislation, saying during floor debate that while “a
continuing resolution is not ideal, it prevents a harmful government
shutdown.”

“It gives us more time to pass the appropriations bills on the floor
of the House and allows us to start negotiations on final, full-year
bills with the Senate,” Granger said.

Pay raise argument

DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, sharply criticized House Republicans
for not adding a provision to the bill that bars members of Congress
from getting a cost of living increase, calling it a pay raise.

“The Senate bill includes the blocking or prohibition on a member pay
raise. That has been dropped from the bill that has just been
proposed,” DeLauro said.

Nevada Republican Rep. Mark Amodei, chairman of the panel that funds
Congress, said that was an incorrect reading of the legislation. But he
later said the bill could be amended to include a paragraph explicitly
prohibiting a cost-of-living adjustment for members of Congress.

“I guess, being generous here, out of an abundance of caution and
respect for those bill-drafting experts in the Senate, fixing that to
include the Senate’s genius language in this measure is something that’s
imminently doable in short order,” he said.

The change was quickly agreed to on the House floor without any vote.