Most South Florida lawmakers vote in favor of House 45-day funding plan to avert shutdown
WASHINGTON — On the brink of a federal government shutdown, the House on Saturday swiftly approved a 45-day funding bill to keep federal agencies open as Speaker Kevin McCarthy dropped demands for steep spending cuts and relied on Democratic votes for passage to send the package to the Senate.
The new approach would leave behind aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, but the plan would increase federal disaster assistance by $16 billion, meeting President Joe Biden’s full request. The House vote was 335-91.
Most of South Florida’s nine congressional lawmakers, including Republicans and Democrats, voted to approve the short−term funding bill. Only U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R−Fort Pierce, whose district includes part of north Palm Beach County, voted against the bill.
Writing on “X,” formerly Twitter, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, D−Weston, said “Democrats stood firm, and House MAGA Republicans blinked.”
“We took out the GOP’s extreme policies from the House pending bill,” she wrote.
U.S. Rep. Carlos Gimenez, R-Miami, whose district includes the Florida Keys, said on "X"that he "preferred to vote for our GOP bills that reduced waste by 8%, but a few inflexible colleagues sided with the Democrats to prevent their passage." He voted on Saturday in favor of the short-term funding bill.
With hours to go before the midnight deadline to fund the government, the Senate was also in for a rare weekend session and prepared to act next.
Said McCarthy before the House vote on Saturday: “We’re going to do our job. We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”
With no deal in place before Sunday, federal workers will face furloughs, more than 2 million active-duty and reserve military troops will work without pay and programs and services that Americans rely on from coast to coast will begin to face shutdown disruptions. That includes almost 90,000 workers in Florida.
The House measure would fund government at current 2023 levels for 45 days, through Nov. 17, moving closer to the bipartisan approach in the Senate. But the Senate package would have added $6 billion for Ukraine to fight the war against Russia and $6 billion for U.S. disaster relief, including financial assistance to victims of Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Idalia.
Both chambers came to a standstill as lawmakers assessed their options, some decrying the loss of Ukraine aid.
"The American people deserve better," said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries of New York, warning in a lengthy floor speech that “extreme" Republicans were risking shutdown.
For the House package to be approved, McCarthy, R-Calif., was forced to rely on Democrats because the speaker's hard-right flank has said it will oppose any short-term measure, risking his job amid calls for his ouster. Republicans hold a slim majority.
After leaving his right-flank behind, McCarthy is almost certain to be facing a motion to try to remove from office, though it is not at all certain there would be enough votes to topple the speaker. Most Republicans backed the package Saturday while fewer than half opposed.
"If somebody wants to remove me because I want to be the adult in the room, go ahead and try,” McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. “But I think this country is too important.”
The White House was tracking the developments on Capitol Hill and aides were briefing the president, who was spending the weekend in Washington.''
WLRN News Staff contributed to this story.