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Senate passes stopgap spending bill, but clash to shrink government lingers after holidays

Senators applaud bipartisan deal as Speaker Johnson’s two-step approach marches ahead.

Published: November 16, 2023 5:40am

The Senate easily passed a stop-gap spending bill in bipartisan fashion late Wednesday, averting a federal shutdown for the holidays but setting up a historic clash early in the new year over shrinking government.

Senators voted 87-11 to approve the plan and send it to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it. Ten Republicans and one Democrat voted against the measure. 

“We’re keeping the lights on through the holidays and fulfilling our basic duties to ensure thousands of hardworking Americans and service men and women will not be forced to work without pay during what should be a joyous time of year,” Senate Democrat Whip Dick Durbin said.

While both sides cheered avoiding a holiday, shutdown, the vote only postponed an epic struggle early into the 2024 election year over House Republicans’ promise to shrink federal spending and the government for the first time in decades.

House Speaker Mike Johnson has set in motion a novel two-tier plan to fund the government with separate spending bills in January and February, which will force the Senate to end years of practice of funding the entire government with omnibus legislation.

Johnson said the approach would give his chamber leverage to finally force a deal to address the insecure border and cut spending like Republicans promised when they ran and won control of the House last year.

“This two-step continuing resolution is a necessary bill to place House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories,” Johnson said. “The bill will stop the absurd holiday-season omnibus tradition of massive, loaded up spending bills introduced right before the Christmas recess.”

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