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Congress approves stopgap funding bill to avoid government shutdown

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Both chambers of the U.S. Congress have approved a stopgap funding bill to keep the federal government open until mid-February.

The House of Representatives passed the resolution first on Thursday in a 221-212 vote mostly along party lines, while the Senate voted 69-28. West Virginia’s House members — Reps. David McKinley, Alex Mooney and Carol Miller — joined their Republican colleagues in opposition to the measure. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., voted for the bill; Capito was one of 19 Republicans who supported the resolution.

Lawmakers’ passage of the funding bill is a significant step toward preventing a government shutdown, which is set to begin Friday at midnight. The resolution provides enough funding to keep the government open through Feb. 18.

The bill also allocates $7 billion for assisting Afghanistan evacuees, including efforts to settle refugees in the United States.

The Senate’s approval of the resolution followed debate regarding the Biden administration’s vaccine mandates. Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Roger Marshall of Kansas introduced an amendment prohibiting funding of federal coronavirus vaccination mandates. Senators rejected the proposal 48-50; Manchin opposed the amendment, and Capito voted in support.

Manchin said following the vote he will not allow a government shutdown for “purely political reasons,” noting the ongoing pandemic and reports of the omicron variant. He added he opposes government vaccine mandates affecting private businesses.

“I have long said we should incentivize, not penalize, private employers whose responsibility it is to protect their employees from COVID-19,” he added. “I have personally had both vaccine doses and a booster shot and I continue to urge every West Virginian to get vaccinated themselves.”

Manchin and Capito are sponsoring a bill that would overturn vaccination requirements impacting large businesses. Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind. — the resolution’s lead sponsor — said after Manchin’s comments that he hopes other Democrats back the resolution.

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