House passes last-ditch government funding bill to avoid shutdown

1 of 4 | House Speaker Kevin McCarthy addresses the media following a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The House voted to approve a stopgap government funding measure later in the day. Photo by Michael Reynolds/EPA-EFE

Sept. 30 (UPI) — The House of Representatives on Saturday passed a Republican-sponsored 45-day stopgap government funding resolution with the help of Democrats in a bid to avert a looming government shutdown.

The final vote tally was 335-91, more than the two-thirds needed for passage.

The measure now moves to the Senate and then on to the White House where it must by signed by President Joe Biden before midnight to avoid a government shutdown.

The measure did not include additional funding for Ukraine as sought by Democrats but crucially eliminated divisive demands for tougher border security sought by GOP rebels led by Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

“MAGA Republicans have surrendered,” House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries wrote in a post on X. “All extreme right-wing policies have been removed from the House spending bill. The American people have won.”

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on Saturday reversed course and offered the “clean” stopgap spending bill after previous stopgap measures had failed in the face of a looming 12:01 a.m. Sunday deadline.

McCarthy spent Saturday morning meeting with his Republican colleagues aiming to gather support for the latest short-term measure, admitting his job as speaker is at stake with his support for a “clean” measure, which unlike previous versions did not contain measures deemed toxic by Democrats in the House and Senate.

The right-wing lawmakers also pushed for deeper spending cuts in order to avoid the shutdown. Those cuts would have included ending billions in foreign aid for Ukraine, which the stopgap measure continued to contain.

Following the vote, McCarthy sharply criticized the hard-right holdouts, who now seemed likely to force a vote on his ouster.

“If you have members in your conference that won’t let you vote for appropriation bills, doesn’t want an omnibus and won’t vote for a stopgap measure — so the only answer is to shut down and not pay our troops — I don’t want to be a part of that team,” he told reporters.

A McCarthy-backed measure failed by a 198-232 vote Friday with 21 Republicans joining Democrats in opposition.

“There’s only one person to blame for any potential government shutdown, and that’s Matt Gaetz. He’s not a conservative Republican. He’s a charlatan,” Rep. Mike Lawler, R-N.Y., said Friday.

Gaetz is an outspoken member of the far-right House Freedom Caucus.

Before Saturday’s vote, House Democrats reviewed the proposal to gauge its support, but the lack of funding for Ukraine initially appeared to be a major obstacle.

“It’s a huge problem” Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., said Saturday afternoon.

“I think if we had a clean (bill) without Ukraine on it, we could probably be able to move that through,” McCarthy told reporters Friday.

“I think if the Senate puts Ukraine on there and focuses Ukraine over America, I think I think that could cause real problems.”

Republicans hold a four-seat majority in the House, meaning they needed Democratic support in order to pass any bill.

A total of 21 Republicans indicated Friday they would not support a stopgap bill as currently constituted.

Instead, they were seeking deep budget cuts as part of any continuing resolution in defiance of a bipartisan budget deal made four months ago in a bid to extend the nation’s debt ceiling.

“You remember what it took to get to that deal,” White House Budget Director Shalanda Young said Friday. “We shook hands, two thirds of Congress voted for it, and the President signed it into law — a commitment to the American people that reduced the deficit, protected critical programs, and ensured their government remained open.

“Today, four of those five sides I just listed are sticking by that deal. The one side, House Republicans, are refusing to live up to their end of the bargain. They have turned their back on the deal. They are on an island entirely by themselves and entirely of their own making. Their chaos — and their chaos alone — is now threatening to push us into a shutdown.”

The Senate passed its own stopgap measure on Thursday, by a 76-22 vote with House Republicans saying they would not support it.

A government shutdown would equate to federal workers being forced to work without pay. That includes vital positions like Border Patrol agents and employees of the Federal Aviation Administration.

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