The Senate is set to reconvene on Saturday, with less than 24 hours remaining to avert a government shutdown, in order to move forward with a bipartisan proposal aimed at extending federal funding. At 1 pm ET, the Senate will conduct a vote on the stopgap spending bill, which, if approved, would maintain government operations until November 17. This legislation also includes provisions for funding Ukraine’s war efforts and disaster relief aid. Failure to pass a stopgap bill, known as a continuing resolution, in both chambers of Congress by midnight would result in a government shutdown.

What is a stopgap bill?

A stopgap bill, also known as a continuing resolution (CR), is a short-term funding measure used by the U.S. Congress to temporarily extend federal funding for various government agencies and programs. Typically, it is introduced when the regular budgeting process is delayed or when lawmakers need more time to reach a consensus on the annual federal budget.

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This type of legislation is essential for preventing a government shutdown, which can have significant economic and operational consequences. When a stopgap bill is passed, it allows the government to continue functioning at existing funding levels, maintaining essential services and paying federal employees.

Stopgap bills specify a temporary funding period, often a few weeks or months, during which Congress must reach an agreement on a full-year budget or pass another stopgap bill to avoid another potential shutdown. While these measures provide short-term stability, they can lead to uncertainty and difficulties in long-term planning for government agencies and programs.

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In addition to maintaining funding levels, stopgap bills may include provisions for emergency funding, disaster relief, or specific appropriations, as seen in the case of the proposed legislation aimed at supporting Ukraine’s war efforts and addressing disaster relief needs. Ultimately, the purpose of a stopgap bill is to keep the government functioning while lawmakers work on a more comprehensive budget agreement.