Senate passes emergency funding to avert government shutdown

The Senate passed an emergency funding bill that will keep the federal government operating past a Thursday deadline. 

The vote will help avert an immediate partial government shutdown by providing government funding until Dec. 3. But it does not address a looming deadline for increasing the nation’s borrowing limit.

Democrats, who control both the House and the Senate, attempted to link government funding to an increase in the borrowing limit last week, but Republicans blocked it.

The GOP said it wouldn’t back a borrowing increase because Democrats plan to ram through a massive social spending package that will explode the nation’s debt and hurt the economy. 

Democrats delinked the two measures, paving the way for bipartisan passage of government funding in the Senate and, later Thursday, in the House. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell celebrated the decision by Democrats to take out the debt limit increase, which so far all Republicans oppose. The GOP is calling on Democrats to pass the debt ceiling unilaterally by attaching it to the big spending bill they plan to ram through over GOP objections. 

McConnell said the GOP would never support a debt limit increase, while Democrats plan on passing a $3.5 trillion social welfare spending package. 

“I think this reality is hopefully starting to dawn on our colleagues,” McConnell said. 

Democrats say the GOP is acting recklessly by opposing a debt limit increase, and they’ll likely step up pressure to get Republican support in the weeks ahead. 

On Thursday, the two parties easily passed emergency government spending.

In addition to funding the government, the bill provides more than $28.6 billion for states damaged by wildfires and summer storms, as well as $6.3 billion to help resettle Afghan refugees who fled the country when the United States withdrew military forces in August. 

Stopgap government funding has become an annual tradition in Congress because partisan differences have made it impossible for the House and Senate to pass all 12 funding measures by the end of the fiscal year.