Leahy amendment helps Congress avoid government shutdown

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An amendment by Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, that stripped a provision to raise the debt ceiling from an earlier, failed bill, passed the House and Senate on Thursday, avoiding a looming shutdown of the federal government.

“It provides $28 billion to help states ravaged by hurricanes and wildfires,” Sen. Leahy said Thursday on the Senate floor. “It provides critical assistance to Afghan refugees who have fled the Taliban.”

President Biden signed the amendment Thursday night, thanking Leahy for his efforts. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York was also grateful.

“With so many things to take care of here in Washington, the last thing Americans need is for the government to grind to a halt,” Sen. Schumer said.

New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan voted in favor of the Leahy Amendment, writing in part:

“…we never should have come to the brink… Shutdowns are costly, avoidable, and cause real harm to the American people, including by risking our national security and threatening livelihoods.”

New York Rep. Elise Stefanik voted ‘no’ in the house, blaming Speaker Nancy Pelosi for the federal government having come so close to shutting down. Stefanik wrote, in part:

“Instead of discussing bipartisan spending cuts with Republicans, Pelosi and House Democrats are working feverishly to jam through the largest tax and spending increase in our nation’s history that will hurt American families for generations to come.”

Sen. Hassan and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford have come up with the Prevent Government Shutdowns Act. If a new fiscal year starts without a full-year budget, the bill would set up an automatic continuing resolution and force lawmakers to work on a new budget in Washington until they agree on one.

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