Senate Approves Stopgap Bill to Prevent Government Shutdown

November 21, 2019 Updated: November 21, 2019

The Senate approved a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown that was slated to begin on Nov. 22, sending the measure to President Donald Trump’s desk just hours before the deadline was to begin.

Senators voted 74–20 on the continuing resolution that would fund the federal government until Dec. 20.

The House passed the measure on Nov. 19. There have been reports saying that Trump is expected to sign the bill.

“These are things we must do,” said Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), while lamenting the lack of a full-year spending package.

“There are plenty of optional things that aren’t being done because we can’t philosophically agree on them,” he told reporters on Nov. 20,

“But government spending, the defense bill we passed each year since 1961, the trade agreement with Mexico and Canada sitting there un-acted upon? Really, this is outrageous and needs to come to a stop.”

The reason for the lack of a funding bill is mainly due to the partisan divide over funding for the U.S.–Mexico border wall.

“I’m optimistic that the passage of the continuing resolution today is something Congress can build from, a sign that appropriators from both sides of the aisle are ready to work together to settle government funding by the end of the calendar year,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told reporters.

The bill also provides funding for U.S. Census measures, a military pay raise of 3.1 percent, and continues surveillance programs from December to March, The Hill reported.

Senators voted down an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would have enacted a 1 percent spending cut.

“Whether it’s our highways or our bridges or our waterways, our infrastructure in America is falling behind. Everyone knows it, but like so many things, Washington can’t figure out how to fix it,” Paul said, according to the Washington Times.

“Politicians on both sides of the aisle talk about trillion-dollar infrastructure plans but offer no way to pay for it. My plan is much more modest, doesn’t increase taxes, and doesn’t increase our debt. The penny plan for infrastructure pays for this with money we’ve already allocated, and to be clear, we do have the money, Washington just spends it in inappropriate ways.”

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin met on the resolution.

A standoff over money for the border wall led to a government shutdown that started toward the end of 2018 and lasted for 35 days.