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Government funding bill gets a step closer to the finish line as the deadline nears

The Senate passed a stopgap spending bill Thursday and will send it to the House, less than 48 hours before money to run the federal government runs out.

The Senate has approved an interim funding bill to tide federal agencies over until mid-December, likely averting a government shutdown.

Government funding is set to expire Friday night at midnight. The continuing resolution would maintain current levels of spending and extend funding through Dec. 16, giving both chambers extra time to hammer out details for a broader budget deal.

"This is common sense, bipartisan legislation," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor ahead of the vote. "I'm glad we came to a timely conclusion and didn't go right up to the brink and risk a shutdown. Millions and millions of people can breathe easy knowing that we have done this in a timely way and the money to continue the government will be there."

What's in the bill

The legislation passed 72-25. It includes $12 billion in aid for Ukraine, $2.5 billion to aid New Mexico in its recovery from a wildfire, $1 billion in funding a low-income home heating program, and $20 million in emergency to address the water crisis in Jackson, Miss.

The bill also allows for the reauthorization of FDA user fees for another five years, which Schumer said in a statement is "vital if we want to avoid any slowdown in the review of new lifesaving drugs."

What's not in the bill

The legislation does not include funding for vaccines, testing and treatment for the coronavirus or monkeypox that the White House had requested.

The initial hurdle in getting the votes to pass the stopgap bill centered on language drafted by West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin that would overhaul how the government approves permits for energy production. Schumer and Manchin had previously brokered a deal that Manchin would support the Inflation Reduction Act, Democrats' signature spending package, if he could attach his permitting legislation to the continuing resolution.

But bipartisan opposition to Manchin's proposal ensued, with Senate Republicans bitter over Manchin joining Democrats in passing the Inflation Reduction Act after indicating he wouldn't support such a package. A group of progressive Democrats concerned about potential environmental impacts also objected to Manchin's measure.

Once Manchin agreed to remove his language from the legislation, the continuing resolution easily overcame a procedural vote on Tuesday, setting it up for final passage.

House Republican leaders oppose the bill, but the measure is still expected to pass the House given the Democrats' simple majority.

Both chambers are eager to leave Washington and return home, particularly lawmakers who want to make their final pitches to constituents ahead of November's midterm elections.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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