Congress votes to avoid government shutdown

By Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 0329 GMT (1129 HKT) December 3, 2021
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10:15 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

The Senate passed a stopgap funding bill to avoid a shutdown. Here are key things to know. 

From CNN's Clare Foran, Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

The Senate passed a stopgap bill that will extend funding through mid-February after the House approved the measure earlier in the day. The bill will next go to President Biden for his signature. 

The final tally in the Senate was 69-28. The final House vote was 221-212. Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting for the resolution.

Why this matters: The passage of the stopgap bill ahead of a Friday midnight deadline put an end to a standoff that had threatened to trigger a shutdown, which could have impacted multiple federal departments and employees.

How we got to the vote: Party leaders cleared the way for a vote tonight in the Senate after overcoming a Republican standoff over President Biden's vaccine mandates.

To resolve the impasse, the two parties came up with an agreement to hold votes on the stopgap bill as well as on a GOP amendment to prohibit the use of federal funding for Covid-19 vaccine mandates, which failed.

Earlier Thursday: Negotiators from both parties announced a plan that would prevent a lapse in funding.

But due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators needed to agree to quickly pass the plan before Friday, an outcome that was not clear it could be locked in until late in the day when party leaders announced a deal had been reached.

Now another looming deadline approaches: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen estimates that the government will run out of money on Dec. 15, an extension from the previous deadline of Dec. 3.

"There are scenarios in which Treasury would be left with insufficient remaining resources to continue to finance the operations of the U.S. Government beyond this date," Yellen said of the new deadline in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Nov. 16.

While the pushed deadline gives lawmakers some additional time to address the debt ceiling, it remains unclear how Democrats will proceed after Republican leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have repeatedly stated they will not help with legislation to raise the limit.

CNN's Paul LeBlanc and Brian Rokus contributed reporting to this post. 

9:10 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

NOW: Senate is voting on a resolution to avoid a government shutdown

(Senate TV)
(Senate TV)

The Senate is voting on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded ahead of Friday's midnight deadline.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced earlier this evening that a deal had been reached for the chamber to pass a bill to keep the government funded through Feb. 18.

How we got here: Negotiators from both parties announced a plan this morning that would prevent a lapse in funding, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday, and a handful of GOP senators had been standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.

9:09 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Senate will next vote on stopgap funding bill after GOP anti-vaccine mandate amendment fails

From CNN's Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav, Lauren Fox and Ted Barrett

The Senate failed to approve the GOP-backed amendment that would prohibit the use of federal funds to implement or enforce vaccine mandates for Covid-19, including for large businesses, federal health care workers and the military.  

The vote tally was 48 to 50 with moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema joining with their fellow Democrats in opposition.

The Senate will next vote on the stopgap funding bill to avoid a government shutdown. 

8:17 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Schumer says deal has been reached to avoid government shutdown

From CNN's Clare Foran and Ali Zaslav

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer just announced a deal to avert a government shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline.

“An agreement has been reached between Democrats and Republicans that will allow the Senate to take up and pass the continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 18. With this agreement there will be no government shutdown,” he said in remarks on the Senate floor.

At 8:15 p.m. ET, the Senate will move to vote on GOP Sens. Roger Marshall and Mike Lee’s amendment regarding the vaccine mandate on businesses, followed by final passage of the House-passed credit resolution.

8:05 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Senate expected to vote on credit resolution soon, source says

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Ted Barrett, Lauren Fox and Kristin Wilson

The Senate is expected to start voting soon on the GOP vaccine amendment, which could take 40 minutes to an hour, a senate source said.

They are then expected to vote on a continuing resolution to keep the government funded.  

7:35 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Senate should start voting within an hour or so on vaccine amendment, followed by the resolution

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Ted Barrett, Lauren Fox and Kristin Wilson

The Senate is expected to start voting within an hour or so on the GOP vaccine amendment followed by passage of the continuing resolution to keep the government funded, per a Senate source. 

The vote on the vaccine amendment would take approximately 40 minutes to an hour.

6:33 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

Schumer says it’s "looking good" on potential Senate vote to avert a shutdown tonight

From CNN's Ali Zaslav, Manu Raju, Ted Barrett and Morgan Rimmer

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it is "looking good" on whether the Senate will approve the House-passed continuing resolution tonight, averting a shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline. 

"It is looking good that we are going to pass the CR tonight and make sure the government stays open, it's looking very good," Schumer said. 

He didn't respond to questions about the details of the emerging agreement. 

6:29 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

GOP leadership trying to push for a Senate vote tonight to avert shutdown

From CNN's Lauren Fox and Ted Barrett and Ali Zaslav

Sen. Roy Blunt speaks with reporters, Thursday, December 2, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Sen. Roy Blunt speaks with reporters, Thursday, December 2, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, a member of the party's leadership, told CNN that leaders are trying to find a way forward that could potentially clear the path for a vote on the continuing resolution in the Senate tonight. 

The House just passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 18. It's now up to the Senate to pass it before the threat of a government shutdown Friday at midnight

“I am told they are trying,” Blunt said. 

Blunt said nothing is locked in, but there is an active discussion to see if it would be possible to vote on a few amendments and the credit bill this evening, so that lawmakers could leave town for the weekend and avert a government shutdown. 

Blunt said the two senators holding up this process are still demanding a vote on their amendment to defund Biden’s vaccine mandate on businesses at a 50-vote threshold, but Republicans don’t have 50 members here. In other words, the amendment would have virtually no chance of passing. It’s not clear Democrats would allow the amendment to come up even if it couldn’t pass. 

Other GOP senators are echoing Blunt’s comments that it is possible the Senate will vote tonight to keep the government funded.

Sen. Roger Marshall said he expects the Senate to vote tonight on the House-passed resolution along with a vote on his amendment to defund Biden's vaccine mandate on businesses at a 50-vote threshold. 

"I think we're going to get our amendment at a 50-vote threshold and what the vote count is going to be, I think we're still counting votes," he said. 

"I think it's this evening," he added, when asked if he thinks the Senate will vote tonight on the bill. "I think that's why everyone's sitting around and standing around here still."

Sen. Ted Cruz said he thinks it looks promising for a vote this evening. 

"I don't think the details are finalized yet," he said, noting he doesn't know what the vote threshold for the vaccine amendment would be. 

Three GOP senators were absent for the latest vote making it even harder for Republicans to get the simple majority that they would need to succeed. 

5:43 p.m. ET, December 2, 2021

House passes bill to fund the government as Republican senators stand by shutdown threat 

From CNN's Annie Grayer, Daniella Diaz, Manu Raju and Ted Barrett

The House has passed a continuing resolution to fund the government through Feb. 18, as congressional negotiators face the threat of a shutdown Friday at midnight because Republican senators are objecting to President Biden's vaccine mandate.

The final vote was 221-212. GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger was the only Republican to join Democrats in voting for the resolution. 

The resolution will now go to the Senate where the shutdown threat remains.

Key negotiators from both parties announced a plan Thursday morning that would prevent a lapse in funding, but due to Senate rules governing procedure, all 100 senators would need to agree in order to quickly pass the plan before Friday while a handful of GOP senators are standing by their threats to delay the process over the vaccine rules.

Some context: A group of Senate Republicans has repeatedly threatened throughout the week to delay passage of the continuing resolution over the Biden administration's rule that requires employers with 100 or more employees to ensure their employees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 or undergo regular testing and wear face masks in the workplace.

While lawmakers are confident that they can ultimately prevent a prolonged shutdown, a brief shutdown over the weekend, or extending into next week, remains a possibility.