Government Shutdown Avoided

October 6, 2021

On Sept. 30, Congress approved and President Biden signed a “clean” short-term continuing resolution (H.R. 5305) that funds the federal government at fiscal year 2021 levels through December 3, nearly averting a partial shutdown that otherwise would have occurred when FY 2021 ended at midnight on September 30. The Senate amended and passed a House-approved version of the CR by a vote of 65-35 before sending it back to the House to approve the revised measure by a vote of 254-175.

As originally approved in the House on September 21, H.R. 5305 called for extending government funding through December 3, provide supplemental appropriations to aid victims of recent U.S. natural disasters and assist in the resettlement of Afghan refugees, and suspend the federal debt limit through December 16, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) attempted to bring it to the floor on September 27; but that effort failed in the face of a promised filibuster from Senate Republicans, who objected to a further suspension of the debt limit. Breaking a filibuster requires a three-fifths supermajority – typically 60 votes – and Democrats were unable to convince any of their Republican colleagues to break ranks and support advancing the House measure. The Senate ultimately stripped out the debt limit provisions in order for it to pass.

With a temporary funding patch in place, lawmakers have additional time to complete and pass the 12 spending bills needed to fund government operations for fiscal year 2022, which began October 1. But the temporary extension also sets the stage for a possible fiscal standoff in early December if the two chambers are unable to agree on a long-term spending plan in the coming weeks.