Congress on Thursday evening passed a stopgap funding bill to keep the government open through Feb. 18, while lawmakers are now considering a potential new path for moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward after the bill stalled out this week in the Senate over amendment disagreements.

The House voted 221 to 212 and then the Senate voted 69 to 28 to approve the latest continuing resolution, a day before the government was set to shut down, providing lawmakers additional time to pass full spending bills.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

President Biden then signed the stopgap funding bill on Friday.

“While this short-term measure is needed to avoid a government shutdown, we must use this additional time to enact a bipartisan, bicameral omnibus appropriations bill, which is the only way to provide certainty and support to working families, small businesses, veterans, and our military,” Rep Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), chair of the House Appropriations Committee said in a statement. “With a new deadline of Feb. 18, there is ample time for Republicans to join us for bipartisan, bicameral appropriations negotiations.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, criticized Republicans’ “unprecedented obstruction” in moving spending bills forward and said a potential year-long CR could amount to a $70 billion impact on the Pentagon and Department of Veterans Affairs (Defense Daily, Nov. 22). 

The Senate, however, left on Friday without having passed its version of the FY ‘22 NDAA, with signs pointing to a new path where the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committee iron out differences between the two bills and both chambers would then go back and vote on that final version. 

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) signaled in his notice for next week’s floor schedule that the House was likely to take up this new final version of the bill.

“Additionally, the House will pass the National Defense Authorization Act, again, to provide our troops with the pay they deserve and our military with the tools it needs to carry out its missions safely and effectively,” Hoyer wrote.

The House has already passed its own $768 billion FY ‘22 NDAA in late September with a bipartisan 316 to 113 vote, with the typical path involving a formal conference with lawmakers to iron out the differences between the two versions of the bill (Defense Daily, Sept. 24).

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said recently he wanted the Senate to pass its own version of the NDAA and avoid having the “Big 4” leaders of the defense committees meet to hash out a final bill on their own, as has been done in previous years where the process has been delayed (Defense Daily, Nov. 2). 

“All that does is shut out a lot of people and we want to open it up. We want to give everyone a chance to participate in this, and the best way to do that is to get it on the floor,” Inhofe said during a Nov. 2 press briefing. 

The latest issue that stalled the Senate’s progress on the NDAA was Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) holding up floor consideration of an amendments package for not including a measure he proposed that would ban the imports of goods from China produced by the forced labor of Uyghur Muslims. 

Democrats said the amendment was not included since it raises a “blue-slip” issue because it’s revenue-related and would need to be first generated in the House, potentially causing an outsized delay to the NDAA.

“Last night, because of the objections of one Republican, the NDAA has once again been prevented from moving forward. As I said last night, the amendment pushed by my colleague would certainly raise a blue-slip objection in the House and thus kill the entire NDAA,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said during floor remarks on Thursday, noting the House Ways and Means Committee “stated unequivocally” that Rubio’s amendment would raise a blue-issue.