Biden Signs Stopgap Spending Bill, Avoiding Government Shutdown

Jennifer Shutt, Missouri Independent

President Joe Biden has signed the stopgap spending bill, giving his administration and Congress about two months to work out an agreement on the dozen annual spending bills.

Those appropriations measures were supposed to become law by the start of the fiscal year on Oct. 1, but disagreement about whether to adhere to the total spending level set in the debt limit law approved this summer or to renegotiate has delayed the process.

“Last night I signed a bill preventing a government shutdown. It’s an important step but we have more to do,” Biden wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Friday morning. “I urge Congress to address our national security and domestic needs — and House Republicans to stop wasting time on extreme bills and honor our bipartisan budget agreement.”

The short-term spending bill, also called a continuing resolution or CR, keeps funding flat and policy nearly identical to the last batch of full-year spending bills. Those were approved last December and totaled about $1.7 trillion.

Congress passed its first short-term spending bill in late September, creating a new deadline Friday at midnight to negotiate a deal on the full-year spending bills.

But House Republicans plunged into internal turmoil shortly afterward when eight GOP lawmakers and Democrats voted to remove former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, from that leadership role.

House Republicans spent several weeks unable to unify behind three nominees before electing Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican.

Johnson earlier this month proposed a second stopgap spending bill that would fund part of the government through mid-January and the rest of the programs through early February. The so-called “laddered” approach, which includes two funding deadlines instead of one, is not typically how short-term spending bills are drafted.

Despite concern from Democrats and some Republicans about the two deadlines, the U.S. House approved the bill Tuesday on a 336-95 vote and the Senate cleared the legislation for Biden’s signature late Wednesday night by a vote of 87-11.

The new spending law will give the Biden administration and Congress until Jan. 19 to reach bipartisan agreement on the Agriculture-FDA, Energy-Water, Military Construction-VA and Transportation-HUD spending bills.

The eight other bills have funding through Feb. 2, giving lawmakers a bit more time to negotiate a final agreement. Those bills include Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, Financial Services, Homeland Security, Interior-Environment, Labor-HHS-Education, Legislative Branch and State-Foreign Operations.

The dozen bills make up the discretionary side of the annual federal budget and account for roughly one-third of total government spending.

Funding for mandatory programs, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, makes up the remaining two-thirds of government spending and is classified as mandatory.

That funding doesn’t go through the annual appropriations process and mostly runs on autopilot.

Missouri Independent is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Missouri Independent maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Jason Hancock for questions: info@missouriindependent.com. Follow Missouri Independent on Facebook and Twitter.

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