WEIS-Radio | Local and regional news, sports and weather » Senate avoids government shutdown after amendments to repeal COVID mandates fail

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(WASHINGTON) — Senators narrowly avoided a government shutdown Thursday night, passing a short-term funding bill a day before funds expired.

The bill, which maintains funding at current levels, will keep the federal government operating until March 11. Congressional leaders hope that by then negotiators will have reached agreement on a one-year funding bill package.

Leaders on both sides of the aisle assured the public for several days that the government would not shut down on Friday, but negotiations were successful as GOP lawmakers sought to use the budget bill as an opportunity to challenge COVID. -19 from the Democrats. mandates.

Pandemic mandate challenges are becoming increasingly popular among Republican lawmakers, who seek to capitalize on growing COVID-19 fatigue across the country.

But blocking those amendments has proven difficult for Democrats, who have blocked consideration of the short-term funding bill because several of their members are not currently in Washington. The senses. Dianne Feinstein from California and Mark Kelly from Arizona are out of town handling family emergencies. And Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico is recovering from a stroke. In the end, some Republicans – the senses. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah and Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma — were also absent from the chamber, tying the numbers and allowing Democrats to advance the vote.

If an amendment had succeeded, the funding bill would have had to be sent back to the House, which is currently in recess and could not have returned to pass an amended version of the legislation before government funding expired on Friday evening.

Neither of the two amendments to the COVID-19 mandate ultimately passed, but they received support from nearly every Republican in the house.

An amendment, proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, would have revoked federal funds for schools that left mask mandates in place for children. The other, led by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would have ended the federal vaccination mandate.

Another amendment, which would have required the United States to balance its budget, also failed.

Lawmakers have already passed several short-term funding extensions to give key negotiators from both chambers more time to agree on a massive bill to keep government funding through the end of the fiscal year.

Leaders say they are getting closer to a deal, but no formal agreement has been announced.

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