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Senate passes bill to avoid government shutdown, sends it to Biden's desk

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Senate passes bill to avoid government shutdown, sends it to Biden's desk
The Senate on Thursday passed a stopgap bill to fund the government through March 11. File Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- The Senate on Thursday passed a bill to avoid a government shutdown, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature ahead of a Friday deadline.

Senators voted 65-27 to approve the measure, which funds the government through March 11 at current levels and provides lawmakers at least three weeks to work out a deal to fund the government through the end of September.

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"By passing this continuing resolution, we remove the unnecessary threat of yet another government shutdown," said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who called for the vote.

The bill was held up by Republican demands to include amendments to the bill.

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Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., brought up his bill on the Senate floor to prevent federal government funding from going toward the distribution of crack pipes.

Other Republican senators called for amendments to withhold funding vaccine mandates.

Leahy expressed outrage at the GOP members' efforts, saying Rubio's complaint and other delay tactics to slow down the continuing resolution was an embarrassment amid the Ukraine crisis.

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"Everybody has the right to speak. Everybody has the right to make any kind of political point for any group they want. But let's talk about being U.S. senators! A war is about to start in Ukraine!" Leahy said. "What we're saying is we will start putting all these things in to slow up a continuing resolution so the United States government can shut down tomorrow night."

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Rubio said that he wasn't delaying the vote on the continuing resolution and the problem instead was there weren't enough lawmakers there to vote on the resolution.

Last week, congressional negotiators announced they reached a framework for the massive government spending package after weeks of negotiations.

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"It's like any compromise. I've been here 48 years. I know you have to work these things out. I don't believe any one of us walk away from these negotiations with everything we wanted," Leahy said Thursday. "There's still much work to do, but on the good part this framework sets the stage for us to make significant investments for the American people and communities across the country."

Among the highlights, Leahy said the framework will provide the biggest increase in non-defense programs in four years, improve healthcare in rural communities, expand opportunities for the middle class and protect national security.

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