Top Democrat says Hill has deal on short-term government spending bill, McConnell says no shutdown

Federal government funding runs out on Friday and Treasury says the debt ceiling needs to be lifted by Dec. 15.

Updated: December 3, 2021 - 1:19pm

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House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro said early Thursday that Congress has reached an agreement on a spending deal to fund the government through mid-February.

DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, said in a statement that an agreement has been reached on a continuing resolution that would stave off a shutdown on Friday and temporarily fund the government at the previous year's levels until a larger bipartisan agreement can be reached on spending or the new year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell later said on Fox News that "we're not going to shutdown the government; that makes no sense."

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are scrambling to pass a spending bill by Friday to prevent a government shutdown.

The Democrat-led Congress had passed a short-term funding bill in September that extended government funding through Dec. 3. Biden quickly signed the bill into law before federal funding expired on Sept. 30.

Later, senators battled over the debt limit increase that the Treasury Department said needed to pass before Oct. 18. Senate Republican leaders ultimately agreed not to use the legislative filibuster to block a temporary $480 billion debt limit increase.

However, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell warned at the time that Republicans would not supply the votes for an additional increase to the debt limit as Democrats prepared to pass a nearly $2 trillion spending bill that contains much of Biden's social and climate agenda. Democratic leaders are using budget reconciliation to pass that large spending bill as a way to avoid the legislative filibuster and not rely on GOP votes.

"This will moot Democrats' excuses about the time crunch they created and give the unified Democratic government more than enough time to pass standalone debt limit legislation through reconciliation," McConnell said.

The budget reconciliation bill is able to pass under Senate rules with 51 votes. There are 51 Democratic votes including Vice President Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote. The legislation passed the House but hasn’t been voted on in the Senate.

Federal government funding runs out on Friday, and the Treasury Department estimates that Congress would need to lift the debt ceiling by Dec. 15.

The Democrat-led House and Senate have yet to pass another short-term continuing resolution to keep the government funded. 

"We won't shut down," McConnell told reporters on Tuesday. "I think we'll get there, and certainly nobody should be concerned about a government shutdown."

Schumer said on Wednesday that congressional leaders were making "good progress" on a deal to avert a government shutdown. Some conservative GOP lawmakers including Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah are calling on McConnell to block a continuing resolution over the Biden administration's vaccine mandates. McConnell has not said if he agrees with their position. 

Marshall said that if Schumer omits the vaccine mandate then a short-term funding resolution to avoid a shutdown would move forward in the Senate. 

"But if he doesn't, this should all be about the economy back home," Marshall said. "A federal mandate on vaccines is going to kill the economy in Kansas and across the nation."