Rough patch: Govt shutdown thwarted as temporary spending fix passes Senate

Rough patch: Govt shutdown thwarted as temporary spending fix passes Senate
The US government once again narrowly avoids being forced to close down from running out of money, thanks to a last-minute Senate vote in favor of a continuing resolution to further fund federal operations until April 28, 2017.

With less than an hour to spare, the US Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded for a little longer than four months. The final Senate vote count was 63 to 36, and the bill only needed 51 to pass.

As late as Friday, at around 10:45pm ET, the Senate was advancing towards a final floor vote on the CR. Funding for government programs would have expired Friday at 11:59:59 p.m. ET, if the Senate had not approved the “fiscal cliff” legislation.

The CR passed the House of Representatives on Thursday in a 326-96 vote.

The lower chamber lawmakers have since begun their holiday break, which many in the Senate are likely looking forward to after the late evening vote.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) had sought to block the CR, because it only provides healthcare benefits for some 16,300 retired coal miners and widows until April 28, 2017, and not a full year.

“It is my intention that miners’ health benefits not expire in April. I’m going to work with my colleagues to prevent that,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) said on the floor Friday, per the Wall Street Journal. “This is a good time [for Democrats] to take yes for an answer.”

Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) spoke about how the CR does not reflect the recently passed NDAA and shortchanges the uniformed armed forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We cannot back out on our promises," Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said in support of the resolution.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) explained in detail the problems of water infrastructure in California, after placing a rider amendment. This was a divisive issue for Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), who said it undermined the best parts of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Ohlahoma) spoke in favor of the infrastructure bill and reminded the Senate that without it, there is no relief for Flint, Michigan. He added that he hoped the government wouldn’t shut down “in the middle of three wars.”