The U.S. Senate approved a temporary funding bill on Wednesday, preventing a partial government shutdown that was expected to begin on Saturday. The measure provides funding only until February 8. The move was seen as a defeat for President Trump who had insisted the bill should include funding for a border wall with Mexico
The appropriations bill will keep the Department of Homeland Security and several other key federal agencies operating, at least for a while.
The legislation was the final item on the Senate’s to-do list for 2018, and they have finished their work for the year. It still must be approved by the House, which had been on leave until Wednesday night. After House approval it must then be signed by President Trump.
Republican senators say that while they believe Trump is unhappy with Congress passing a short-term fix, they said he will probably sign it because they were able to keep off the bill other controversial items that he did not want.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement saying “the measure will continue government funding into February so that we can continue this vital border security debate after the new Congress has convened in January.”
“I think the message is don’t add anything else to it,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican. “He’s not happy about that a continuing resolution but he understands the reality.”
The stopgap funding bill appropriates money for about one-fourth of the federal government. It has created a new long-term funding deadline of February 8. The deadline was tomorrow, so by passing the bill Congress will avoid a shutdown fight during the Christmas holidays.
A vote on the bill was delayed Wednesday over discussions about adding other provisions, such as a land and water measure, and benefits for miners.
Senators wanted a long term deal, but were not able to make that happen because of disputes about border security and border wall funding.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters that Democrats couldn’t accept the border security deal offered by Republicans.
“Senator Schumer — Leader Schumer and I have said that we cannot accept the offer they made of a billion dollar slush fund for the President to implement his very wrong immigration policies, so that won’t happen,” Pelosi said.
Because Republicans could not pass the long-term funding bill on their own, the Democratic rejection of their offer made it inevitable that they would be forced to settle for a short-term solution.
Conservatives blasted both GOP leaders and Trump over the short-term spending bill which contains no wall funding.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) was especially angry, saying:
“Let me get this straight… our chances of getting the Wall will be better in February when Nancy Pelosi is Speaker than now when we have the majority?”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained the administration position, saying that “at the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government.”