Congress passed a bipartisan stopgap bill on Thursday to avert a partial shutdown of the federal government. About half of the Republican members of the House of Representatives and 18 GOP senators voted against it.
All 12 annual appropriations bills were due to be passed by Congress by the end of September 2023. Plagued by infighting and internal disarray, however, the House Republican majority did not complete the task. In November, the House and Senate agreed on a continuing resolution to keep parts of the federal government operating through Jan. 19 and parts through Feb. 2.
“It’s precisely what Americans want to see,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a floor speech on Thursday. “Both sides working together and governing responsibility. No chaos. No spectacle. No shutdown.”
The Senate approved the bill 77-18, with all 18 no votes coming from Republicans. The House then backed it 314-108: 107 Republicans and 207 Democrats voted yea while 106 Republicans and two Democrats voted nay.
Wisconsin Republican Reps. Scott Fitzgerald, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman, Bryan Steil, Tom Tiffany, and Derrick Van Orden all voted against the legislation. Democratic Reps. Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan both voted to approve it.
“We have a historic crisis and national security threat at our southern border, billions in wasteful government spending, and still no strategic plan for the war in Ukraine,” Van Orden said in a press release. “The CR brought to the House floor today did nothing to resolve these problems and only would have continued to kick the can down the road of budgeting by crisis.”
Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin voted in favor.
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson voted no, telling a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter to consider it a protest vote. Before that, he voted against even considering the stopgap bill and voted for an alternative motion that would have effectively guaranteed a shutdown and endorsed a year-long continuing resolution with massive cuts to domestic and defense spending.
After the House approved the continuing resolution passed in November, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) vowed that it would be the last time it did so, telling reporters, “I’m done with short-term CRs.” He was forced to reconsider because despite a bipartisan January agreement on total spending levels, not a single fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill has reached President Joe Biden’s desk.
Beyond the harm shutdowns cause public employees who lose their pay and the millions who rely on the government for veterans’ benefits, food and drug safety, Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare, studies have shown they are also damaging to the nation’s economy. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, recent shutdowns have reduced the United States’ gross domestic product by billions of dollars.
“Don’t let the mainstream media and political establishment fool you—a government shutdown is really a pause in non-essential spending,” tweeted Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs on Jan. 14. “I say we pause non-essential spending until our border is SECURED.”
Senate Republicans and Democrats are reportedly close to a border security compromise bill. House Republicans, led by Speaker Johnson, say they will oppose any such legislation until a Republican is in the White House.
Last July, Rep. Bob Good (R-VA) said: “We should not fear a government shutdown. Most of what we do up here is bad anyway. Most of what we do up here hurts the American people.”