New Senate Proposal Aims to Head Off Weekend Government Shutdown


Senate Republicans and Democrats reached agreement on Tuesday on a stopgap spending plan that would head off a government shutdown on Sunday while providing billions in disaster relief and aid to Ukraine, according to officials in both parties, but the measure faced resistance in the Republican-led House.

The bill, which is slated to face a test vote late Tuesday afternoon, would keep government funding flowing through Nov. 17 to allow more time for negotiations over yearlong spending bills and provide about $6 billion for the Ukraine war effort as well as approximately $6 billion for disaster relief in the wake of a series of wildfires and floods.

Senate leaders hoped to pass it by the end of the week and send it to the House in time to avert a shutdown now set to begin at midnight Saturday. But there was no guarantee that Speaker Kevin McCarthy would bring the legislation to the House floor for a vote, since some far-right Republicans have said they would try to remove him from his post if he did.

Still, in putting it forward, Senate leaders in both parties were ratcheting up the pressure on Mr. McCarthy, who has failed to put together a temporary spending plan of his own.

Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said the Senate agreement “will continue to fund the government at present levels while maintaining our commitment to Ukraine’s security and humanitarian needs while also ensuring those impacted by disasters across the country begin to get the resources they need.”

The Senate proposal would meet stiff resistance from House Republicans both because it includes assistance for Ukraine that many of them oppose and also maintains federal funding at current levels. Many House Republicans are demanding steep cuts in even an interim funding plan. As a result, Mr. McCarthy would need Democratic votes to pass it, and leaning on Democrats would stir a backlash from his own party.

Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday morning told reporters at the Capitol that he would not address “hypotheticals” about whether he would put a stopgap plan passed by the Senate to a vote on the House floor. He and his deputies were toiling ahead of a scheduled vote on Tuesday evening to round up support to allow a group of yearlong spending bills to come to the floor for debate, even as a group of hard-right Republicans vowed to continue blocking them.

“I heard all this time, they’re going to pass appropriations bills all month,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters at a separate news conference later in the day. “Remember, you all wrote about it? They were the good chamber. So when they pass something, come back and ask.”

But Senate leaders were hoping for a strong bipartisan vote for the interim funding as a show of strength to put added pressure on Mr. McCarthy. The measure would require 60 votes in the Senate to advance.

Senate negotiators had considered trying to move forward with a stopgap bill that would simply maintain funding at current levels, considering that might be the least complicated path for Mr. McCarthy.

But senators of both parties pressed for some assistance to Ukraine, arguing that to ignore the Biden administration’s request for more aid would be an affront to the U.S. ally after President Volodymyr Zelensky made a personal appeal to members of Congress just last week. Both the Ukraine money and disaster recovery funding are seen as down payments on the full amounts requested by the Biden administration — nearly $25 billion for Ukraine and $16 billion for the disaster recovery fund.

Senators also were hoping that the extra natural disaster aid would attract votes from those who have expressed opposition about backing more funding for Ukraine, but might be unwilling to vote against help for hard-hit states closer to home, such as Hawaii and Florida.

Still, the Ukraine assistance will complicate matters in the Senate. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and a libertarian, has threatened to use procedural tools available to him to challenge the aid, potentially delaying the Senate bill’s arrival in the House.

The so-called continuing resolution would also extend authority for expiring Federal Aviation Administration programs through the end of the year, extend some community health programs and maintain higher pay for those fighting wildfires as the original source of the firefighting money is running low.


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