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How Congress Averted a Government Shutdown, and what’s next to come

This week, a lot has happened in Washington. New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez has been indicted on bribery charges, longtime California senator Dianne Fienstien died, and most importantly, Congress was able to avert a government shutdown. But how? Earlier this morning, a shutdown seemed all but certain. Let’s get into it.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy had been trying to pass a measure to fund the government for weeks, to no avail. This was due to opposition from Republican hardliners in the house, most notably representative Matt Gaetz from Florida. These were due to many concerns, like that the bill was not conservative enough, it would not have enough cuts, or that the bill allocated too much aid to Ukraine, and not enough for the border. McCarthy wanted to pass the bill without the support of Democrats, so he kept on trying to compromise with these hardliners, to mostly no avail. McCarthy also refused to pass a bipartisan stopgap measure from the Senate, as he still did not want any Democratic votes. As the clock ticked closer to the shutdown deadline, however, both Republicans and Democrats sensed urgency, and McCarthy and his more moderate GOP members worked with house Democrats to pass a largely bipartisan stopgap bill, with only one Democrat and the 21 hard line Republicans in opposition. 

As the bill reached the Senate, the bill was briefly held up by Colorado Senator Micheal Bennet due to concerns about funding for Ukraine. However, party leaders promised the Senator that there would be a separate vote, and the current stopgap bill was quickly passed in the Senate, and signed by President Biden, averting a shutdown.

After tonight, there are still two main issues left in the air. Number one, funding for Ukraine has still not been resolved, despite Party Leaders promising to hold a vote next week. This is because the more conservative Republicans in congress have said they would not support additional funding for Ukraine, because more money needs to go to policing the United States-Mexico border. Despite this, I believe a bill that allocates money for Ukraine aid will still get passed. The second issue is the fate of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. See, the Republican hardliners have gotten more and more frustrated that Kevin McCarthy is not listening to them enough, and they see the speaker working with Democrats as the final straw. In the coming weeks, expect to see a big push to oust Kevin McCarthy from speakership. While I believe the vote to oust McCarthy will be inevitable, we will just have to wait for the result.

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