By Ashleigh Fields,
AFRO Assistant Editor,
With the threat of a government shutdown looming, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) finally caved on the Democrats’ demands to drop large spending cuts from a temporary funding bill and the Senate signed off on the measure in order to successfully pass a 45-day continuing resolution.
“It has been a day full of twists and turns, but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief: There will be no government shutdown,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., as quoted by The Associated Press.
The legislation, which now goes to President Biden for approval, would fund federal agencies until Nov. 17.
“This is good news for the American people,” Biden said in a statement.
The package increased proposed disaster relief assistance by $10 billion, meeting Biden’s full request for $16 billion. However, it cut aid for Ukraine – a White House priority – in an effort to appease Republican lawmakers.
“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said. “I fully expect the Speaker will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment.”
The passage of the legislation came just a couple hours before a shutdown deadline and after days of grueling and chaotic debate among lawmakers. As tensions rose before the vote passed Sept. 30, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) reportedly pulled a fire alarm in the Cannon Building.
In response, McCarthy said at a following press conference, “This should not go without punishment.”
He is now calling for the Ethics Committee to look into Bowman’s actions.
McCarthy himself may face scrutiny from his party’s right flank after abruptly pivoting away from their demands for steep spending cuts and instead relying on Democrats to pass the bill, at risk to his own job.
“Today, Democrats stood tall for the American people, while this vote marked a surrender and defeat to the MAGA extremists in Congress,” said Congressman Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.). “This is not a permanent nor perfect solution, but it was a necessary step to protect the innocent American lives that would have been adversely affected without the critical services of the federal government.”
While many will breathe a sigh of relief that a crisis has been averted, the reprieve may be short-lived. The funding measure only covers the next 45 days, and Congress soon would need to hammer out a longer-term funding plan for the government. Bipartisan agreement would, however, likely be stymied by those whose demands were swept aside – like hard-right GOP lawmakers – and who may dig in their heels on the second round of bargaining.
McCarthy, whose capitulation places him at threat of an ouster from the speaker’s position, said the chamber will get the job done, however.
“We’re going to do our job,” McCarthy said before the House vote Sept. 30. “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.