President Biden signs bill to avert shutdown

WASHINGTON (The Hill): President Biden on Thursday signed a stopgap bill that will keep the government funded through early December, narrowly averting a government shutdown.

The House and Senate each passed the continuing resolution earlier Thursday. The bill funds government operations through Dec. 3 and includes $28.6 billion in additional disaster relief and $6.3 billion for Afghan refugee resettlement, as requested by the White House.

“It meets critical and urgent needs of the nation, including disaster relief for both red and blue states hit hard by Hurricane Ida and other devastating natural disasters, and funding to help us resettle Afghan allies in the United States following the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan,” Biden said in a statement after signing the bill. “This funding will also keep up our fight against COVID-19 and—on this International Recovery Day—it will continue our battle against the opioid crisis.”

“There’s so much more to do. But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people,”  the president said.

Government funds were due to run out at midnight. The White House announced that Biden had signed the continuing resolution at about 7:30pm.

Last week, the House passed a nearly identical stopgap funding bill along party lines that also included a provision that would have suspended the debt limit until mid-December of next year. Senate Republicans, who have refused to vote to suspend or raise the debt ceiling because of Democrats’ plans to pass a multitrillion reconciliation package, blocked the bill on Monday evening.

The measure that Biden signed into law on Thursday does not include a provision suspending the debt ceiling. It passed the Senate in a 65-35 vote and cleared the House in a 254-175 vote.

The White House last week began preparing agencies for the possibility of a government shutdown, as is standard practice when government funding deadlines loom.

While averting a shutdown will provide some relief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Biden is in the process of trying to unify Democrats behind passing the Senate-approved infrastructure bill and a larger reconciliation package that includes a laundry list of his economic priorities.

Though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) planned a Thursday vote on the infrastructure bill, progressives have vowed to oppose it unless it is linked to the larger package. White House aides were on Capitol Hill late Thursday trying to work out a deal that would satisfy moderates and progressives.

The administration also needs Congress to act on the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned this week that the debt limit must be raised by Oct. 18.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday accused Republicans of treating the debt ceiling “like a game.”

“Republicans are playing politics with an economic catastrophe and they’re treating a calamity for working families like a D.C. game,” Psaki said, noting that the administration would keep up the pressure on Republicans on the issue.