US averts government shutdown

By Shania Shelton, Tori B. Powell, Kaanita Iyer, Adrienne Vogt and Matt Meyer, CNN

Updated 0412 GMT (1212 HKT) October 1, 2023
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12:04 a.m. ET, October 1, 2023

Congress passed a short-term funding bill averting a government shutdown. Here's what to know

From CNN staff

A government shutdown was prevented after Congress passed a stopgap funding measure ahead of a critical midnight deadline in a whirlwind day on Capitol Hill.

President Joe Biden signed the bill late Saturday night.

Catch up here:

How it came together: House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced the stopgap proposal Saturday morning, a move that came after weeks of infighting among House Republicans and a failed effort to pass a GOP stopgap bill in the chamber. The bill passed the House with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, and it then was sent to the Senate. The final vote was 88 to 9.

The bill will keep the government open through November 17 and includes natural disaster aid but not additional funding for Ukraine or border security.

Concerns over Ukraine funding: The stopgap bill originally included funding for Ukraine to help Kyiv fight the full-scale invasion from Russia, but the funds were dropped after some conservatives raised objections during negotiations.

Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet briefly held up the vote on the bill after he objected over concerns about the lack of funding in it. Bipartisan members of Senate leadership released a joint statement committing to vote on further funding for Ukraine aid "in the coming weeks."

House Democratic leadership said in a statement that they expect McCarthy to bring a separate Ukraine aid bill to vote when the House returns. 

“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” Biden said in a statement.

McCarthy's fate unknown: The decision by McCarthy to put a bill on the floor that would win support from Democrats could put his speakership at risk as hardline conservatives continue to threaten a vote to oust him from the top House leadership post.

McCarthy was defiant after the vote, daring his detractors to try to push him out as he argued he did what was needed to govern effectively.

“If somebody wants to make a motion against me, bring it,” McCarthy told CNN’s Manu Raju at a news conference. “There has to be an adult in the room. I am going to govern with what’s best for this country.”

Hardliners are expected to force a vote to remove McCarthy as speaker, just “not yet,” according to a Republican lawmaker.

Fire alarm incident: New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman pulled a fire alarm in a House office building on Saturday morning shortly before the House was scheduled to vote on the funding bill, which he said was an accident.

“I was trying to get to a door. I thought the alarm would open the door, and I pulled the fire alarm to open the door by accident,” he told reporters.

“I was just trying to get to my vote, and the door that’s usually open wasn’t open, it was closed,” Bowman added.

House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil, who first revealed the incident, said "an investigation into why it was pulled is underway."

McCarthy said the House ethics committee should look into it, while GOP Rep. Lisa McClain told CNN that she was circulating a resolution to censure Bowman. 

11:40 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Biden signs stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown

Joe Biden signs the stopgap funding bill on Saturday night.
Joe Biden signs the stopgap funding bill on Saturday night. From @POTUS/X

President Joe Biden signed a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown tonight ahead of a critical midnight deadline when funding for federal agencies was set to run out, the White House said in a statement.

"I just signed a law to keep the government open for 47 days. There’s plenty of time to pass Government funding bills for the next fiscal year, and I strongly urge Congress to get to work right away. The American people expect their government to work. Let’s make sure it does," Biden said in a post on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. He also shared a photo of the signing Saturday night.

The Senate passed the measure Saturday evening after the House abruptly reversed course earlier in the day and passed a bipartisan bill to extend government funding after days of uncertainty over whether a shutdown could be averted.

The legislation punts a potential shutdown until November 17. It includes natural disaster funding, but not aid for Ukraine to help Kyiv fight against Russia's full-scale invasion.

11:04 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

GOP presidential candidates react to averted government shutdown

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi and Aaron Pellish

Some Republican presidential candidates spoke about the averted government shutdown in remarks made on the campaign trail.

Here's what they said:

Nikki Haley

Haley on Saturday criticized Congress, including Republicans, for allowing the US to get close to a government shutdown by not producing a budget on time and for including funding for pet projects in appropriations bills.

“You need a president that reminds them their job is to put a budget out before we even get to this point,” Haley said at a town hall Saturday night in Clive, Iowa.
“So don't let them sit there and tell you, ‘Oh, I was on this side or I was on that side.’ No, that's the wrong thing. They should have given us a budget on time so we've never got to this point,” the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador said.

Vivek Ramaswamy

At the California Republican Party convention in Anaheim, California, on Saturday, the entrepreneur criticized the threat of government shutdown as an unproductive strategy that does not accomplish the goal of reducing government spending, and he argued the more effective government spending cuts would come from his plan to reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy.

“This whole debate is a farce, it's a deflection, even if the government were going to shut down, we know what happens every time. They get the back pay, it comes back bigger every time,” Ramaswamy said. “We need to stop the artificial debate about fake government shutdowns and start having a real debate how to achieve a true shutdown of the administrative state.”

Ramaswamy also cited zero-base budgeting as a potentially effective reform to reduce government spending. 

Mike Pence

The former vice president on Saturday said he's going to continue to be a "strong voice" when asked by CNN about his brother's vote against Ukraine aid and whether the issue has divided his family. 

GOP Rep. Greg Pence of Indiana, Pence’s brother who endorsed him for president, on Wednesday voted against a bill that would have provided Ukraine security assistance for fiscal year 2024.

"I am very grateful for the work of every House Republican including the one with the same last name as mine," he told reporters in Centerville, Iowa. "As they continue to work through this issue, I see House Republicans as the last line of defense for taxpayers, but I'm going to continue to be a strong voice, a strong voice for American military support for Ukraine."

The stopgap funding bill does not include any new aid for Ukraine. But bipartisan members of Senate leadership released a joint statement committing to vote on further funding for Ukraine aid "in the coming weeks."

He did not answer whether he has confidence in House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to unite the party around a spending bill. 

10:44 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

How a freshman GOP senator became a key broker as Congress worked to avoid a government shutdown

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Sen. Markwayne Mullin speaks to reporters during a vote on Saturday.
Sen. Markwayne Mullin speaks to reporters during a vote on Saturday. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republican Oklahoma Sen. Markwayne Mullin has been spotted all over the Capitol in the last few days, including with his former House Republican colleagues at their conference meetings and on the floor.

Mullin was a key player in conversations between the House and Senate GOP as they wrestled with how to avert a government shutdown, running back and forth between the two chambers.

“I’ve been blessed to have friends on both sides,” he told reporters. 

Mullin even caught himself referring to the House GOP as “we,” at one point on Saturday. “If we do it — if the House does it — I still talk like I was there,” he laughed. 

Mullin was in and out of the conference meeting Saturday morning where House Republicans considered several options for keeping the government open, and he attended the Senate GOP conference’s lunch afterwards. 

“I just happen to have good relationships with the speaker and some of the House members,” he told CNN. “And then with Sen. (John) Thune, I just thanked him for giving me the opportunity to do it, you know, just running back and forth, but it was good.”

“It should be chaotic, it's designed to be chaotic, right? I mean, we all come from different backgrounds and different places. But it's nice to see when we can finally figure out well, as you go through the process, the options get narrower and they get fewer and then when you finally get down the last two, it's a or b, there's no c left,” Mullin said. 

“And we all came together — in a bipartisan manner, that's even better,” he added. 

Asked whether he would be taking on this role as a go-between for Republicans across the Capitol more often, Mullin joked, “Lord, I hope we don’t have a day like this."

"I need to bring my gym shorts. We’ll have to bring (Pennsylvania Sen. John) Fetterman’s rule back so I can have the gym clothes to run back and forth," referring to the controversy in the Capitol earlier in September when Senate Majority Leader a Chuck Schumer decided to stop enforcing the Senate's unwritten dress code, only to have a formal resolution requiring business attire passed a week later. 

While Mullin acknowledged that the short-term spending resolution may put Congress back in the same spot in mid-November, he was optimistic they had learned something from this experience.

“I can see us being right back here in 45 days. But there was a lot more motivation, since we’ve already did this fire drill, there’s going to be a lot more motivation for us to start working Monday on getting these issues ironed out,” he said.

10:20 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Defense secretary calls for more Ukraine aid following the passage of the stopgap bill

From CNN's Mike Callahan

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a welcome ceremony at the Pentagon on September 21.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin greets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a welcome ceremony at the Pentagon on September 21. Andrew Harnik/AP/FILE

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin welcomed congressional passage of a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown, but he called for more Ukraine funding in a statement on Saturday night. 

The short-term funding measure does not include new aid for Ukraine it its battle against Russia's full-scale invasion.

“I welcome congressional action tonight to avert an unnecessary and destructive government shutdown that would have had a profound impact on the lives our troops and civilians who work and sacrifice to defend this country every day. But I also urge Congress to live up to America’s commitment to provide urgently-needed assistance to the people of Ukraine as they fight to defend their own country against the forces of tyranny. America must live up to its word and continue to lead, ” Austin said. 

What government leaders say: House Democratic leadership said in a statement Saturday that they expect House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to bring a separate Ukraine aid bill to vote when the House returns. 

Bipartisan members of Senate leadership also released a joint statement committing to vote on further funding for Ukraine aid "in the coming weeks," after Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet objected to the Senate's consideration of the short-term spending bill over concerns about the lack of funding. 

“We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Saturday night.

10:21 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Here's what Republican senators who voted against the stopgap bill are saying

From CNN's Kaanita Iyer

The US Senate passed a stopgap bill tonight to keep the government funded through November.

The final vote was 88 to 9. Some of the senators who voted against the bill are now speaking out. Here's what they're saying:

Tennessee Republican Bill Hagerty

“During negotiations around a Continuing Resolution, I made very clear that I wouldn’t support any short-term funding bill that didn’t include serious border-security measures to help put an end to the Biden Border crisis, & I’m keeping that commitment,” Hagerty said in a post on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, during votes. “My colleagues know that I’ve worked my heart out to this end, and I look forward to working with them over the next 45 days to accomplish this critical goal,” Hagerty added. 

Kansas Republican Roger Marshall

“The CR does nothing to address our most immediate national security threat- our open southern border & the fentanyl pouring in,” Marshall said in a post on X. “With a $33 trillion debt crisis, it’s never been more clear America can’t afford to continue these spending levels for one more day, let alone, 45.” 

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul

“When I said I'd do everything I could to stop the US government from being held hostage to Ukraine, I meant it.” Paul said in a post on X during votes. “We cannot continue to put the needs of other countries above our own.”

He added: “We cannot save Ukraine by dooming the U.S. economy. I'm grateful to all Members of Congress who stood with me, but the battle to fund our government isn't over yet - the forever-war crowd will return.” 

10:06 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Stopgap bill is currently en route to the White House

From CNN's MJ Lee

The stopgap bill that the House and the Senate passed is en route to the White House, per a source. President Joe Biden is expected to sign it as soon as it arrives.

9:50 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Bipartisan Senate leadership says they support vote for more Ukraine funding "in the coming weeks"

From CNN's Morgan Rimmer

Bipartisan members of Senate leadership released a joint statement committing to vote on further funding for Ukraine aid "in the coming weeks," after Democratic Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet delayed the Senate's consideration of the short-term spending bill over concerns about the funding. 

"In the coming weeks, we expect the Senate will work to ensure the U.S. government continues to provide critical and sustained security and economic support for Ukraine," it says. 

“We support Ukraine’s efforts to defend its sovereignty against (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s brazen aggression, and we join a strong bipartisan majority of our colleagues in this essential work. With the eyes of our partners, allies, and adversaries upon us, we keenly understand the importance of American leadership and are committed to strengthening it from Europe to the Indo-Pacific,” according to the statement.

Earlier Saturday, Bennet told reporters a bipartisan statement was exactly what he had hoped to see when he objected on the stopgap bill to keep the government open due to its lack of Ukraine funding.

"I think it's really important for us to send a message that the dysfunction that we have — in terms of this immediate question about opening or closing the government — doesn't reflect on our bipartisan commitment to make sure that the United States stays in this battle and that we continue to support the Ukrainian people in their in their fight,” he said.

When asked if he trusts the House, Bennet said, “We're gonna have to work every day between now and the next votes we take to make sure that the American people understand how important this is and and that Congress fulfills our obligation.” 

He said he is not aware of any timeline from leadership. 

Following the release of the bipartisan statement, Bennet in a separate statement addressed the need for Senate leadership to reaffirm support for Ukraine.

"I objected tonight to proceeding to the Continuing Resolution because it failed to provide additional money for Ukraine. Senate Leadership needed to reaffirm our bipartisan commitment to sustain funding for Ukraine. The Senate Leadership has released such a statement, and, as a result, I voted to keep the government open," he said in the statement.

CNN's Haley Talbot contributed to this post.

9:36 p.m. ET, September 30, 2023

Biden calls last-minute scramble to pass stopgap funding measure "manufactured crisis"

From CNN's Aileen Graef

The White House is seen at dusk on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC.
The White House is seen at dusk on September 30, 2023 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum/Getty Images

President Joe Biden praised bipartisan efforts to keep the government open tonight and funded through November but added that the last-minute scramble by House Republicans was a “manufactured crisis” that could have been avoided months ago.

“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” the president said in a statement Saturday night, marking the passage of the stopgap bill.

Biden went on to slam House Republicans for a “manufactured crisis” saying, “We should never have been in this position in the first place. Just a few months ago, Speaker McCarthy and I reached a budget agreement to avoid precisely this type of manufactured crisis.”

Biden did reiterate his support for Ukraine, urging Congress to pass separate funding for assistance to Ukraine in the war against Russia.

“While the Speaker and the overwhelming majority of Congress have been steadfast in their support for Ukraine, there is no new funding in this agreement to continue that support. We cannot under any circumstances allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted,” he said.

The stopgap bill will fund the government through November 17. 

Earlier Saturday, a White House official said Biden is on standby right now to sign the short-term government funding bill as soon as it reaches his desk.