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Senate passes $1.2T federal spending bill after deadline, ending brief partial government shutdown

The spending package easily cleared the upper chamber in a 74-24 vote.

It now heads to President Biden’s desk, who will sign the measure on Saturday.

Senators were deadlocked for hours on whether to vote on amendments to the massive bill, which cleared the House of Representatives on Friday.

With minutes to go before the deadline, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that an agreement had been reached on a series of votes on amendments – all which failed to pass.

“It’s been a very long and difficult day, but we have just reached an agreement to complete the job of funding the government,” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “It is good for the country that we have reached this bipartisan deal. It wasn’t easy, but tonight our persistence has been worth it.”

The impact to government operations of the hours-long partial shutdown appeared to be limited.

“The most recent appropriations for the Department of Defense expired at 11:59p.m. EDT on March 22, 2024,” read a statement from the Pentagon, issued after the deadline was missed.

“Military personnel will continue in a normal duty status without pay until a continuing resolution or appropriations are passed by Congress and signed into law,” the statement continued. “Civilian personnel not engaged in excepted activities will be placed in a non-work, non-pay status.”

The White House, however, indicated that shutdown preparations “ceased” upon senators reaching an agreement to hold the overnight vote.

“[Office of Management and Budget] has ceased shutdown preparations because there is a high degree of confidence that Congress will imminently pass the relevant appropriations and the President will sign the bill on Saturday,” the White House said in a statement.

“Because obligations of federal funds are incurred and tracked on a daily basis, agencies will not shut down and may continue their normal operations.”

Federal offices are closed for the weekend and many government agencies are fully funded because of the previous so-called “minibus” legislation that Biden, 81, signed into law earlier this month.

The impasse over amendments threatened a more prolonged shutdown.

Federal offices are closed for the weekend and many government agencies are fully funded because of the previous so-called “minibus” legislation that Biden, 81, signed into law earlier this month.

If amendments had been successfully added to the legislation it would’ve forced the measure back to the House for approval – but the lower chamber adjourned for a two-week recess Friday afternoon.

Despite this, some Republicans were eager to force votes on amendments related to border security, immigration, Iran sanctions and the Laken Riley Act.

GOP members were poised to hold Democrats responsible for the shutdown over their initial refusal to consider amendments.

“Senate Democrats are again threatening to shut the government down to avoid voting on border security amendments,” Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) wrote on X, before the midnight deadline. “The question to ask them: Would they rather shut down the government than shut down charter flights for illegal immigrants into American cities?”

The Tennessee Republican also suggested that vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election were “afraid” of having their amendment votes go on the record.

“Democrat Senators are afraid to take a position on Biden’s failed policies by voting on amendments to the appropriations bill,” Hagerty argued. “They’d rather shut down the government than take a position on President Biden’s failures.”

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) blamed Republican “gremlins” for the missed deadline.

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