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Senate passes bill avoiding federal government shutdown

Senate passed a stopgap funding bill Thursday to avoid a federal government shutdown.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed a stopgap funding bill to avoid a federal government shutdown Thursday evening. The final vote in the Senate was 69-28 and the House vote was 221-212.

Leaders in Congress announced a deal Thursday morning to keep the government running past a midnight deadline Friday after a group of Senate Republicans was threatening to force a brief shutdown.

For many of the more than 350,000 federal workers in the D.C. area, the idea of the government shutting down again just before Christmas felt anything but nice.

"What I would say to my constituents is it's a shame that you've got people in the Senate who are willing to play games with your lives," Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said. 

A small group of Republican senators said they were going to oppose the funding bill unless it cuts off money to enforce the Biden administration vaccine mandate for big employers. 

"This is so silly, that we have people who are anti-science, anti-vaccination, saying they're going to shut down government over that," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said. 

But, both parties agreed Thursday night to hold votes on the stopgap bill and GOP amendment to prohibit the use of federal funding for COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

Shutdowns can leave bathrooms uncleaned, shutter museums, force agencies to furlough employees and leave workers unpaid, even those labeled essential. 

"Right now we're in the midst of trying to recruit the next generation of federal government employees, scientists, doctors, nurses, cybersecurity experts," said Jacqueline Simon of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest union representing federal workers, including many at the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security. "And they see this kind of irresponsible behavior. It's foolish, it's chaotic. And it just makes it much more difficult to recruit the kind of high-quality workforce that the federal government needs."

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