Shutdown averted: House passes spending bill to fund federal government through Dec. 16

Ledyard King

WASHINGTON – The House Friday passed a bill to keep the federal government open through Dec. 16, hours before a partial shutdown would have kicked in at midnight and only weeks before the midterm elections.

The vote was 230-201 with a handful of Republicans joining Democrats in support of the bill. President Joe Biden signed the measure Friday afternoon, which passed the Senate 72-25 Thursday.

It includes $12.4 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine on a day when Russian President Russian Putin falsely proclaimed four Ukrainian regions were now part of  Russia. It sets aside billions more for disaster relief as Florida weathers the devastating wallop packed by Hurricane Ian.

U.S. Capitol Building as seen from slightly off-center.

"We in Congress have a responsibility to the American people to keep the lights on," Rules Committee Chairman James McGovern, D-Mass., said on the House floor before the vote. "In addition to preventing the furlough of thousands of federal employees, averting a shutdown will also ensure that our constituents can continue to receive the vital government services that they need."

Hurricane aide, help for Ukraine, assistance to families for heating bills

The bill's provisions include:

  • $18.8 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund, in part to help with recovery needs from Hurricane Ian, a category four storm that has so far left at least 21 dead and inflicted widespread damage.
  • $12.4 billion in emergency assistance for Ukraine, including $4.5 billion in economic assistance and $3 billion for military equipment, training, and weapons 
  • $2.5 billion to support recovery from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire in New Mexico.
  • $2 billion in Community Development Block Grants to help communities experiencing major disasters in 2021 and 2022, including Kentucky, Missouri and Puerto Rico.
  • $1 billion to assist low-income families cover heating bills.
  • $20 million for previously authorized water infrastructure projects to help address the crisis in Jackson, Miss.

Russian moves:Putin proclaims he's annexing four regions of Ukraine in ceremony; U.S. says Russia's actions illegal: Live updates

The bill was nearly derailed by a controversial proposal from Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., that would have expedited federal permits for certain energy projects, including a pipeline in his home state. Manchin Tuesday removed the provision from the Senate version after objections from both progressive Democrats who oppose fossil fuel expansion and Republicans who back broader expansion.

More:Senate clears key hurdle to avoid federal shutdown as Manchin pulls energy permitting from spending bill

Many Republicans voted for the measure but not without criticizing it first.

Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, called it "flawed and inadequate," partly because it does not include funds for security on the southern border.

Democrats did not get all they wanted either.

House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., said she was "saddened" the bill did not include more aid to combat COVID and monkeypox outbreaks.