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Senate passes funding bill to avert government shutdown until November

Washington — The Senate on Thursday approved a temporary funding bill that staves off the risk of a government shutdown through November 21. The vote came as much of the attention on Capitol Hill was focused on the House Intelligence Committee's hearing with Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire and the continued fallout from a whistleblower complaint over President Trump's call with Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelesnky. 

The measure buys additional time for lawmakers to work to unclog a $1.4 trillion bundle of yearly spending bills that is hung up amid fights over Mr. Trump's border wall and abortion. Those measures face a variety of obstacles, and it's not clear whether Congress will pass them.

The budget that was previously passed set spending limits for the upcoming fiscal year and suspended the debt ceiling until July 2021, but the Senate had not acted on the appropriations bills that actually fund government operations before heading out for their August recess.

The measure passed by an 82-15 vote with all 15 votes against the measure cast by Republicans. It now heads to the White House for Mr. Trump's expected signature. No Democrat voted against the short term continuing resolution. 

The House previously voted 301-123 on a continuing resolution to fund the government through the November date.  

Democrats blocked Senate Republicans from advancing an almost $700 billion defense measure last week, a move partly designed to leverage broader negotiations on domestic programs. The move to keep the government fully funded also comes during a contentious time on Capitol Hill as the growing calls for impeachment came to a head this week — leading to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to formally launch an impeachment inquiry into the president. 

Asked if impeachment would affect the prospects of the spending bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Thursday that the Congress still intends on carrying out its legislative business. 

"You know, I was here during the Clinton investigation. We continue to do legislation. They continued to do legislation during the Watergate investigation. I would hope that we could do the same and with that, it's certainly our intent. We intend to pursue the people's business," Hoyer said. 

Senator Dick Durbin meanwhile, voiced concerns that Thanksgiving shutdown was not out of the question. 

"I don't want this government shut down. That doesn't solve any problems. That's up to the President. He's had billions of dollars to spend for his wall. He's taken it away from our military and our families. We've got to bring them into us," Durbin told CBS. 

"To think you're going to shut down the government over this wall and these circumstances is a terrible outcome. I hope the President doesn't bring us to that point again," he added. 

Alan He and Emily Tillett contributed reporting. 

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