WASHINGTON (AFP) In a rare show of bipartisanship, the US Congress adopted a stopgap funding plan on Thursday to keep federal agencies functioning until 2022 and avoid a costly government shutdown during the holiday season.
With the clock winding down to the deadline of 11:59 p.m. on Friday, the Senate voted 69 to 28 to keep the lights on until February 18 with a resolution that had previously passed the House.
With Christmas coming, the “continuing resolution” prevents millions of government employees from being sent home without pay while parks, museums, and other federal sites and services close.
“I am delighted that calmer heads prevailed in the end — the government will remain open,” stated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“I also want to thank the members of this chamber for saving us from an unnecessary and costly shutdown.”
The resolution was likely to face opposition in the Senate, where a tiny group of conservative Republicans planned to filibuster it in protest of the White House’s pandemic response.
However, Democrats decided to allow a simple majority vote to defund President Joe Biden’s vaccine-or-testing demand for large corporations, which failed as predicted.
The requirement, according to the right-wing Republican party led by Utah’s senior senator Mike Lee, is an affront to personal liberty.
- 780,000 people have died –
More than 780,000 people have died in the United States as a result of the epidemic, and the worrying new Omicron form of the coronavirus has sparked worries of a winter rise in cases.
However, Biden’s decree demanding vaccination or weekly testing for specific portions of the US workforce, including enterprises with more than 100 employees, has been met with legal challenges.
Lee had fought to eliminate federal financing for the mandate’s implementation, and he had the support of right-wingers in both chambers.
“If it’s a decision between temporarily halting non-essential activities on the one hand and standing idle while up to 45 million Americans lose their jobs, livelihoods, and capacity to work on the other hand, I’ll always side with American workers,” he stated.
According to the Pew Research Center, the amount Lee stated represents more than a quarter of the 157 million people employed in the United States.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in October, just 5% of unvaccinated individuals have quit a job due to a vaccination mandate.
Any single senator in the equally split upper chamber may sabotage any vote.
However, the majority of Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, were opposed to the plan, afraid that they would be blamed for the shutdown.
McConnell had signalled that Republicans would back the continuing resolution ahead of the House vote, but he had made no indication that he would bring Lee and the other holdouts to heel.