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Senate passes stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown, provide more Ukraine aid

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) confer before addressing reporters following the weekly senate party caucus luncheons at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 9, 2019.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters

The U.S. Senate voted 72 to 25 on Thursday to pass legislation funding the federal government through mid-December — days before an impending government shutdown.

The bill, which now goes to the House where it’s expected to quickly pass, includes an additional $12 billion in aid for Ukraine, $1 billion in heating and utility assistance and emergency aid for natural disasters. Food and Drug Administration user fees were also reauthorized for another five years under the continuing resolution. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into law before the federal budget runs out on Friday.

For the second time this year, lawmakers deliberated on a spending bill with limited time to spare. If it passes the House as expected, the continuing resolution will keep the government running until Dec. 16.

The legislation had been held up by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., who wanted a provision that sped up the federal permit process for big energy projects, including pipelines and electrical lines. Schumer announced the decision to strike the bill language on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“Senate Republicans have made it very clear they will block legislation to fund the government if it includes bipartisan permitting reform because they’ve chosen to obstruct instead of work in a bipartisan way to achieve something they’ve long claimed they wanted to do,” Schumer said Tuesday.

Manchin added it was “unfortunate that members of the United States Senate are allowing politics to put the energy security of our nation at risk,” in a statement released later that day.

Schumer said Manchin requested to move forward with the spending bill without his Energy Independence and Security Act.

“Senator Manchin, myself and others will continue to have conversations about the best way to ensure responsible permitting reform is passed before the end of the year,” Schumer said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called the permitting reform proposal a “poison pill” earlier this week.

The $12 billion in aid for Ukraine comes as its military makes significant gains against Russian forces — a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans. GOP lawmakers had been reluctant to attach the new spending resolution to the bill.

FEMA’s disaster relief fund was given $18.8 billion in light of increasingly intense natural disasters happening around the country, such Hurricane Ian which devastated Florida.

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