The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a temporary funding bill that would avert a government shutdown as lawmakers failed to finalize negotiations on a broader spending package before the February deadline.
Lawmakers voted 272–162 to pass the legislation on the short-term funding package, which was released Monday by House Appropriations Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn).
The bill now heads to the Senate, where Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has indicated that the chamber will act on the measure quickly before it is sent to President Joe Biden to be signed, according to NPR.
Specifically, the short-term measure would prevent a government shutdown on Feb. 18, when current funding is set to expire, and extend funding for about three weeks through March 11.
This gives both Republicans and Democratic lawmakers more time to finalize negotiations on a more comprehensive spending deal that would keep the government funded at least through September.
Lawmakers had failed to finalize a long-term deal before the Feb. 18 deadline.
“This continuing resolution [CR] is a product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiation to keep the government up and running while Congress finishes important work for the American people,” said DeLauro.
“We are very close to an agreement and I am eager to move this process forward. I have every expectation that we can finalize a framework in short order and then work together to fill in the details and enact an omnibus.”
The legislation, known as the “Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act,” continues funding at current levels through March 11 and adds $350 million in funding to address water contamination from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii.
The Hawaii Department of Health earlier this month ordered the Navy to suspend operations and empty the underground tanks at the Fuel Storage Facility after some 14,000 gallons of water and fuel mixture had leaked from it in November.
Back in November, officials had insisted the drinking water was safe and the problem under control but later the Navy said it was investigating reports of chemical odor in the water from nearby residents.
In December, the Navy said it was temporarily pausing operations at Red Hill pending the investigation.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-N.Y.) said on Tuesday that while the latest legislation ensures that the government can continue as normal without a shutdown, “we cannot, however, simply allow the government to operate under last year’s funding levels for the remainder of the 2022 fiscal year.”
Hoyer had previously expressed some frustration regarding the delay in lawmakers coming to an agreement on the budget bills to fund the government, which is among the most basic of congressional responsibilities.
“We should have passed all 12 appropriation bills to fund the government for this coming fiscal year that we’re now in—fiscal year ’22—we should have passed that by Sept. 30,” he said on MSNBC. “We didn’t. As a result, we needed to CR … and we’re now doing an additional one, because we haven’t gotten our work done on time.”
However, Hoyer said he was optimistic that an agreement could be reached soon.
“I think that we’re going to get agreement both on the topline—how much spending is going to be and how it will be spent—but it’s not there yet,” he added.
Tuesday’s passage of the short-term spending bill is the third time Congress has passed such a bill in an effort to keep the federal government running since the fiscal year began in October.