President Joe Biden issued a statement late Saturday after he signed into law a stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown, saying, "we should never have been in this position in the first place."
Congress alone has the authority to approve government spending via annual appropriations bills. Twelve such bills are needed for each key federal department. Without renewed authorization, the spending power ends on Sept. 30, the close of the government's fiscal year.
Lawmakers had until Sept. 30 to pass either all 12 appropriations bills or a continuing resolution (CR). If they failed to do either, all nonessential government operations would have been suspended on Oct. 1.
The CR signed by President Biden on Saturday extends government funding at the current rate for 45 days—until Nov. 17—while 2024 budget negotiations play out.
'Should Never Have Been in This Position'If no deal had been in place before Sunday, federal workers would have faced furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops would have had to work without pay, and various programs and services that Americans rely on would have begun to face shutdown disruptions.
The stopgap bill ends the threat of such disruptions for now, but lawmakers now have just six weeks to finalize the appropriations bills.
"This bill ensures that active-duty troops will continue to get paid, travelers will be spared airport delays, millions of women and children will continue to have access to vital nutrition assistance, and so much more. This is good news for the American people," President Biden said, adding: "But I want to be clear: we should never have been in this position in the first place."
McCarthy-Biden DealIn June, following a prolonged impasse, Mr. McCarthy and President Biden had reached an agreement to suspend the nation’s $31.4 trillion borrowing cap and keep spending levels relatively flat through Jan. 1, 2025.
These fiscally conservative Republicans had spoken out against passing a CR, arguing that a temporary government shutdown should be leveraged to benefit Republican priorities. They believe that any CR would inevitably lead to additional delays in creating a full-year spending plan, which would result in the necessity of a last-minute catchall bill presented for an up-or-down vote—with no time to debate or offer amendments.
A total of 21 more fiscally conservative Republicans had, on Friday, joined Democrats in blocking a CR preferred by other Republicans.
That stopgap bill extended funding for only 31 days, but it contained 8 percent in cuts to non-defense discretionary spending, and a package of immigration and border restrictions.
But the 21 GOP holdouts insisted that their party should instead focus on completing the appropriations process, even if that meant a temporary suspension of non-essential government services.
The CR passed on Saturday includes neither spending cuts nor border security measures.
"Would I have wanted the bill we put on the floor yesterday that would secure our border and cut wasteful spending? Yes, I did," Mr. McCarthy told reporters shortly after the House vote on Saturday. "But I had some members in our own conference that wouldn't vote for that.
“At the end of the day, we kept the government open, kept paying our troops to finish the job we have to get done,” he added.
Mr. McCarthy had delayed bringing any CR to the House until Friday, hoping to convince holdouts that the House would continue working diligently on passing conservative appropriations bills.
Ukraine FundingPresident Biden noted in his statement on Saturday that there is no new funding for Ukraine in the CR he signed on Saturday.
"While the [House] Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support," the president said. He added that the United States "cannot under any circumstance allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted," and that he expected that Mr. McCarthy to "keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help Ukraine at this critical moment."
The lack of extra funding for the Ukraine war effort in the House version of the stopgap bill threatened its passage through Congress, but senators ultimately decided that financial assistance for Ukraine could be addressed in separate legislation.