Senate passes short-term deal to avoid government shutdown – live | US politics

Senate passes short-term funding bill, averts government shutdown

The Senate has approved a measure to keep the government funded through December 16, averting a shutdown that would have begun Saturday:

Passed, 72-25: Passage of Cal. #389, H.R.6833, the legislative vehicle for the Continuing Resolution, as amended. (60-vote affirmative threshold)

— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) September 29, 2022

The bill now goes to the House for approval. Top Republicans have encouraged their lawmakers to vote against it, but Democrats control the chamber, making its passage likely. Beyond just funding the government, the bill contains about $12 billion in new aid for Ukraine, as well as relief money for disasters in Kentucky, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and other states.

Key events

An attorney for Ginni Thomas has released a statement detailing her testimony to the January 6 committee today.

The statement, obtained by the New York Times, acknowledges that she continues to have questions about the 2020 election but downplays her involvement in attempts to overturn the result:

It appears Ginni Thomas’s testimony today to the January 6 committee is already bearing fruit.

Politico reports that the congressional panel’s chair Bennie Thompson said the promoter of 2020 election conspiracy theories and wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas was of some help to the investigation:

1/6 committee chair Bennie Thompson tells reporters Ginni Thomas is answering “some questions” and reiterated her belief to the committee the 2020 election was stolen

— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) September 29, 2022

They might be able to use some of her testimony in the hearing (when it’s rescheduled) “if theres something of merit”

— Nicholas Wu (@nicholaswu12) September 29, 2022

The January 6 committee was supposed to hold its first public hearing in more than two months on Wednesday, but postponed it due to Hurricane Ian’s arrival in Florida. They have not yet rescheduled the session.

Senate passes short-term funding bill, averts government shutdown

The Senate has approved a measure to keep the government funded through December 16, averting a shutdown that would have begun Saturday:

Passed, 72-25: Passage of Cal. #389, H.R.6833, the legislative vehicle for the Continuing Resolution, as amended. (60-vote affirmative threshold)

— Senate Cloakroom (@SenateCloakroom) September 29, 2022

The bill now goes to the House for approval. Top Republicans have encouraged their lawmakers to vote against it, but Democrats control the chamber, making its passage likely. Beyond just funding the government, the bill contains about $12 billion in new aid for Ukraine, as well as relief money for disasters in Kentucky, New Mexico, Puerto Rico and other states.

The day so far

The Senate appears poised to pass a short-term spending bill to keep the government open and avert a shutdown, potentially giving lawmakers space to spend the next few weeks campaigning ahead of the 8 November midterms. Meanwhile, Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas and a promoter of conspiracy theories around the 2020 election, testified before the January 6 committee.

Here’s what else happened today:

An American citizen was killed in Iraqi Kurdistan, which Iran has targeted with drone and missile attacks as its government struggles with nationwide protests, Reuters reports.

Iran’s Kurdish minority has been particularly involved in the protests, which were sparked by the death of a woman from the ethnic group in the custody of its morality police. Yesterday, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan condemned Iran’s attacks on its neighbor, saying: “Iran cannot deflect blame from its internal problems and the legitimate grievances of its population with attacks across its borders.”

An unusual pairing of senators has introduced legislation to further raise Taiwan’s standing within global organizations, as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to counter China’s attempts to isolate the island it views as a breakaway province.

Axios reports that the Senate proposal from conservative Republican Ted Cruz of Texas and liberal Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon would push for Taiwan to be included in the United Nation’s International Civil Aviation Organization (Icao). It would also tell the White House to seek a vote admitting Taiwan to the body at its next meeting.

China has kept Taiwan out of Icao assemblies since 2013, but earlier this week, transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg called for its return. Taiwan is home to Asia’s fifth-largest airport, and Axios reports concerns about its exclusion from the Icao were raised in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic as travel was snarled globally by border closures and flight restrictions.

The fallout from the water crisis in Mississippi’s capital continues, with a complaint accusing the state of divesting from the city in favor of its suburbs, Edwin Rios reports:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has filed a federal complaint accusing Mississippi officials of violating civil rights law by repeatedly diverting federal funds meant for ensuring safe drinking water away from the state’s predominantly Black capital, Jackson, to smaller, white communities.

The suit says such actions amounted to racial discrimination and a devastating loss of access to drinking water for more than a month for residents in Jackson, where more than 80% of residents are Black and a quarter are in poverty.

“The result is persistently unsafe and unreliable drinking water and massive gaps in the access to safe drinking water that are intolerable in any modern society,” Jackson residents allege.

“Nearly all of the residents of Jackson have watched brackish, dirty, impure, and undrinkable water trickle from their taps. At times, some have had no water at all.”

The complaint, filed to the Environmental Protection Agency, amplifies pressure on officials in Mississippi and Jackson to address longstanding water infrastructure woes that recently forced Jackson to shut down its water supply in late August and maintain a boil water notice for weeks.

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

Six Republican states are suing the Biden administration over its plan to forgive student loan debt for millions of Americans.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Missouri by that state, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and Arkansas. Iowa has a Democratic attorney general – the Republican governor, Kim Reynolds, signed on the state’s behalf

Leslie Rutledge, the Arkansas attorney general leading the case, told the Associated Press: “It’s patently unfair to saddle hard-working Americans with the loan debt of those who chose to go to college. The Department of Education is required, under the law, to collect the balance due on loans. And President Biden does not have the authority to override that.”

In the suit, the states say Biden has declared the Covid-19 pandemic over – but is still using the ongoing health emergency to justify the wide-scale debt relief.

The forgiveness plan is not universally popular among those with student debt but the Biden administration and Democrats have touted it, in the quickening run-in to the midterm elections.

Further reading, part I:

Elsewhere this week, the Congressional Budget Office said the program will cost about $400bn over three decades. The White House pointed out that the CBO estimate of how much the plan will cost in its first year, $21bn, is lower than initially forecast.

The education department is due to unveil the application for forgiveness in October.

Further reading, part II:

Martin Pengelly

Martin Pengelly

For Senate scheduling fans out there, and we know there are many, the government funding vote seems imminent …

Sounds like a potential 145 pm Senate vote on government funding ✈️

— Burgess Everett (@burgessev) September 29, 2022

Senate Democratic leader signals deal reached to avoid shutdown

While Congress may be the site of financial brinksmanship in 2023, there appears to be no appetite for it now. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader of the Senate, has indicated in a floor speech that the votes are there to pass a short-term funding bill to keep the government open through December 16.

The legislation heads off a shutdown that would have started on Saturday, but must still be approved by the House, where the Democrats also have a majority.

“With a little more good faith negotiation between Democrats and Republicans, I am hopeful that today is the day we’ll finish passing a continuing resolution to fund the government until mid-December. Government funding is set to run out Friday at midnight, roughly 40 hours from now, and there is no reason at all for us to get anywhere near that deadline,” Schumer said.

“In short, there is every reason in the world for both sides to get to ‘yes’ on finalizing a CR before the end of today. Democrats will continue working with our Republican colleagues in good faith to find a path to the finish line.”

The latest agreement was reached when Democratic senator Joe Manchin agreed to withdraw a controversial proposal to change the permitting process for energy projects, which did not look like it had the support to pass as part of the wider spending measure. But it’s not always this easy. The government has shut down repeatedly in recent decades when Congress was so consumed with squabbles and demands that it couldn’t agree on a way to keep it open before funding ran out. And this latest agreement means lawmakers can spend more time back in their districts, stumping for re-election ahead of the 8 November midterms.

If Kevin McCarthy does become the next House speaker, Axios reports that Americans could expect a congressional standoff in the latter part of next year with uniquely high stakes for the country.

At issue would be the debt limit, which governs how much borrowing the United States can do to fund its budget and is on track to need to be raised by the fall of 2023. Failure to do so could result in Washington defaulting on its debt – an unheard of economic calamity that could have repercussions for financial systems worldwide.

The two parties have haggled over the debt limit in the past and came close to default in 2011, when a newly ascendant Republican majority in the House used it as a cudgel against Democrat Barack Obama’s administration. According to Axios, the concern is that McCarthy would be willing to entertain such brinksmanship if he takes over the House, a tactic top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell is far less interested in.

The subtext to this is that some Republicans don’t trust McCarthy to negotiate responsibly when it comes to the debt limit, Axios reports, with one source contrasting him with John Boehner, the Republican House speaker in 2011. “‘Speaker [John] Boehner and a hypothetical Speaker McCarthy are different animals,’ a former House Republican who served during the 2011 crisis told Axios. ‘Boehner was convinced of the necessity [of raising the debt limit] and was willing to twist arms. I just don’t know about a Speaker McCarthy.’”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *