Senate Approves Short-Term Funding Hours Before Deadline

This September 2019 photo shows a view of the U.S. Capitol building from the Washington Monument. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(CN) – The U.S. Senate passed a temporary short-term spending bill Thursday to avoid a shutdown and keep the federal government running through Dec. 20.

The plan, known as a continuing resolution, passed 74-20. Each vote against passage of the measure came from Senate Republicans.

The bill provides military members with a 3.1% pay raise and allots money for certain public health programs and the U.S. Census. It also extends surveillance provisions under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act through part of March.

The measure cleared the House of Representatives on Tuesday after a 231-192 vote, with only 12 Republicans voting in favor. It now goes to President Donald Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign the bill. The government is currently set to run out of money at midnight Thursday.

It is the second stopgap measure that lawmakers have passed to keep the government funded for the 2020 budget year.

Once signed, lawmakers will have about four weeks to restart stalled negotiations over funding for the Trump administration’s border wall project and to address $1.4 million in unfinished appropriations bills.

Trump and Senate Republicans want $5 million more for the president’s long-promised wall at a time when a divided Congress is especially tense, with the 2020 elections on the horizon and an ongoing impeachment inquiry that could send articles of impeachment to the House floor near the next funding deadline of Dec. 20. It’s unclear if House Democrats are willing to compromise on an amount of money for the wall.

The issue of funding for the wall shut the federal government down for a record 35 days in late 2018 and early 2019.

Before the vote, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, was recognized to offer an amendment requiring spending cuts of about 1% to fund infrastructure projects.

“This plan cuts one penny, 1% of all spending and puts that money in a fund for infrastructure,” Paul said, adding the amendment would put $12 billion per year in the infrastructure fund.

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat, said a plan like Paul’s would seriously harm the military and other federal programs.

“It’s a simplistic tool that ignores the complexities of the federal budget,” Leahy said. “We have the hard work of making the hard choices.”

Most of the Senate voted to table Paul’s motion, 73-20.

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