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Senate passes stopgap bill to avert shutdown at end of the week

By Clare Foran, Ali Zaslav and Ted Barrett, CNN

The Senate voted on Thursday evening to pass a stopgap bill to avert a government shutdown at the end of this week with funding currently set to expire on Friday at midnight.

The vote was 71 to 19.

Now that it has passed the Senate, it can go to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. The House approved the measure on Wednesday.

The stopgap measure will extend funding for another week — until Friday, December 23 — to give congressional negotiators time to finalize a broader, full-year government funding deal with new topline spending levels.

In a sign of progress, top negotiators announced Tuesday evening that an agreement had been reached for a framework that puts lawmakers on track to complete a sweeping full-year government funding package.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy said in a statement that he and ranking Republican member Richard Shelby and House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro had “reached a bipartisan, bicameral framework that should allow us to finish an omnibus appropriations bill that can pass the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President.”

So far, however, negotiators have not provided many specifics about the agreement.

On Wednesday, Shelby said the top line is about $1.7 trillion, but would not elaborate. Shelby said the exact allocations to the different government agencies are still being negotiated.

The announcement that a framework deal had been reached for a broader spending bill represented a major breakthrough in negotiations, but there is still more work to be done now as lawmakers work to finalize the fine print and the specifics of what the sprawling legislation will include.

The expectation on Capitol Hill is that Congress will be able to avoid a shutdown, but congressional leaders have little room for error given the tight timeline they are facing so the pressure is on for lawmakers.

A bipartisan agreement for a full-year government funding deal has proven challenging to secure amid disagreement between the two parties over how much money should be spent on non-defense, domestic priorities.

Republicans are critical of recent domestic spending by Democrats and argue that measures Democrats have passed while they have been in control of both chambers of Congress, like a $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill and a sweeping health care and climate bill, are wasteful and will worsen inflation.

Democrats counter by saying those measures were necessary to help the country recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic as well as to tackle other critical priorities. Democrats say that money to respond to Covid, health care and climate should not mean there should be less money next year for government operations and non-defense, domestic spending.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.

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