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Senate sends Biden bill averting federal shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Thursday's Senate approval of legislation to prevent a weekend shutdown sent President Joe Biden a measure that gives bipartisan bargainers more time for a deal to fund federal agencies until fall.

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Senate sends Biden bill averting federal shutdown

Senate sends Biden bill averting federal shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP), -- Thursday's Senate approval of legislation to prevent a weekend shutdown sent President Joe Biden a measure that gives bipartisan bargainers more time for a deal to fund federal agencies until fall.

The final passage was achieved by a bipartisan 65/27 vote, five votes more than the required 60. Last week, the legislation was approved by the House with ease. Each party believed that an election-year shut down would be politically harmful, particularly during a pandemic or a confrontation with Russia about its possible invasion in Ukraine.

Politics, as with almost all must-pass bills was, went along. Conservatives forced votes on several amendments, including one on the year's most controversial issues, COVID-19 vaccine mandates. They were defeated mainly along party lines.

A bill by Senator Mike Lee (Republican from Utah) and several of his colleagues would have stopped existing federal vaccine requirements to the military, government workers, contractors, and health care workers. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) proposed another that would have stopped federal funds being used by school districts to impose their own vaccine requirements. Mike Braun (Republican from Indiana) proposed another that Congress must balance its non-binding federal budgets within ten years.

With Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote, United Democrats can defeat GOP Senate proposals in the 50-50 Senate. However, Harris was absent in Europe and several Democrats were missing due to illness or ailing spouses. The Democrats won the election after several Republicans left for travel or to start the recess.

Another GOP attempt to block federal spending on crack pipes was defeated after the Biden administration stated that it had no plans to and would not. This money is part a program that aims to help drug abusers prevent further harm.

The House is currently in recess, so amending the bill would have been complicated. However, the House would have to pass the revised version before it was sent to Biden.

Agencies would have been forced to cease operations if the House bill was not passed by the Senate. The legislation will finance the government until March 11.

Both sides hope that the short-term measure will not be needed, as negotiators create compromise bills financing agencies until Sept. 30. Federal agencies have been operating at the spending levels that were approved by Donald Trump's last weeks since the beginning of the government's budget year.

Bipartisan compromises will be used to create the new spending bills. However, they will allow Biden and Democrats in control of Congress to put more emphasis on spending priorities. They are also expected to provide the GOP with defense increases.

Over the past decade, Congress has often finished its budget work months behind schedule. It is now a feat, not a given, to avoid shutdowns caused by partisan point scoring.

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