Senate to vote on stopgap funding bill to prevent government shutdown

Washington — The Senate on Thursday is poised to approve a short-term government funding bill that keeps federal agencies open through early December and staves off a partial government shutdown.

The stopgap measure, known as a continuing resolution, is expected to pass the Senate with bipartisan support. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday night that a deal had been on the funding measure after an earlier bill, which included a provision to suspend the debt limit through December 2022, was blocked by Republican senators this week.

In addition to keeping federal agencies funded at current levels through December 3, the bill includes funding for Afghan refugee resettlement and disaster relief after states battled a spate of hurricanes and wildfires.

Passage of the funding measure by the House and Senate would avert one fiscal crisis — a partial government shutdown — but leaves unanswered the need for Congress to suspend the debt ceiling. The path for how Democratic leaders intend to skirt a debt crisis without Republican support remains unclear, as GOP leaders have repeatedly warned they will not back legislation that hikes the debt limit and have urged Democrats to suspend the limit using reconciliation, which would not require GOP votes.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders this week the U.S. would exhaust extraordinary measures allowing the government to pay its bills on October 18. Inaction by Congress to raise the debt limit would send the nation into default for the first time in its history and trigger widespread economic chaos.

As the September 30 deadline to avoid a lapse in government funding has crept closer, congressional leaders have expressed optimism Congress would pass a stopgap funding bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday that she expected a “big” bipartisan vote on a funding bill and did not believe the government would shut down if Congress failed to act by Thursday night.