House and Senate vote to avert government shutdown until February

Photo (c) Matt Anderson Photography - Getty Images

The move will keep jobs and services from being put on hold

Americans who count on Social Security and SSI checks, U.S. Postal Service deliveries, or VA medical facilities and clinics can feel safe going into the weekend. Late Thursday, both the House and Senate voted to fund the government until February, avoiding the threat of a shutdown that would bring those services to a standstill.

The bill was in danger up until the last minute, as a group of Republican senators threatened to stall its passage unless language was added in that blocked the use of federal money to carry out President Biden’s mandate on workplace vaccinations. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) said that one consequence of the president's order could be a loss of jobs. However, that amendment failed to pass.

"This is about jobs in Kansas. It's about jobs in Texas, in Utah, across the nation. An unconstitutional federal vaccine mandate's going to lead to an economic shutdown, jobs lost back home,” Marshall told reporters prior to the vote being taken.

Going into Thursday’s eleventh-hour dare, President Biden was confident that everything would stay as it was. 

“I spoke with Mitch McConnell. I spoke with Schumer. There is a plan in place, unless somebody decides to be totally erratic. And I don’t think that will happen, so I don’t think there will be a shutdown,” Biden said during a press conference addressing the Omicron COVID-19 variant.

If a government shutdown occurs, who’ll be impacted?

If the federal government ever finds itself in a shutdown, as it did for 35 days in 2018 when Donald Trump was president, the effect would be significant and wide-ranging. At risk would be:

  • Hundreds of thousands of federal employees and government contractors who wouldn’t get a paycheck until Congress reaches an agreement on funding;  

  • Government facilities such as consulates in foreign countries, national parks and museums, and IRS offices that would be closed; and

  • Consumers who want a government permit. For example, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be closed during a shutdown, so consumers who want to get a gun permit would have to wait until the shutdown is over.

Fortunately, Medicare and Social Security benefits, as well as employment benefits from individual states, should continue uninterrupted.

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