Senate overwhelmingly agrees to short-term spending bill, moves to end government shutdown

Mitch McConnell
Department of Health and Human Service employees who were briefly furloughed Monday will be back to work, after the Senate voted to end the government shutdown. Democrats and Republicans came to an agreement on a temporary spending bill after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to take up debate on immigration issues if the Senate hadn’t reached agreement on immigration by Feb. 8. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Senate agreed to a short-term spending bill Monday that effectively ended the government shutdown.

UPDATE: HHS employees back to work Tuesday as government reopens, but for Congress it is back to the drawing board

The 81-18 vote to approve the spending bill came after the majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., promised Sunday to take up debate on immigration issues if the Senate hadn’t reached agreement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which provides protections for young immigrants brought to the country by their parents without proper documentation.

RELATED: Government shutdown begins Saturday as bitterly divided Senate rejects House-passed spending bill

The vote effectively puts an end to the government shutdown, three days after it began at midnight Saturday when the Senate fell 10 votes short the 60 votes needed to approve a House-passed spending bill. However, the spending bill passed by the Senate is for three weeks, not the four that the House approved. The House and Senate were expected to take final votes later today. 

The failure to reach an earlier agreement on a spending bill that eventually led to the shutdown set a precedent as the Republican party controls the House, Senate and presidency. The White House said Saturday it would refuse to negotiate on immigration until funding was restored.

RELATED: House passes short-term spending bill that funds CHIP, but Senate divided as government shutdown loom

The shutdown temporarily put more than 40,000 employees who work for the Department of Health and Human Services and its related agencies and offices on furlough Monday morning. Under the HHS contingency plan the furloughs would:

  • limit disease surveillance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 
  • stop work by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on standards coordination, and
  • halt implementation and testing required under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health and 21st Century Cures (Cures) acts by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.