Congress has moved to avert a threatened government shutdown, approving a stopgap spending bill that would keep federal agencies, including their infrastructure and construction programs, open—but only through March 11.

President Joe Biden signed the measure on Feb. 18, just hours before the shutdown would have begun

The final congressional action on the measure came on Feb. 17, when the Senate passed the continuing resolution (CR) on a 65-27 vote. Passage required at least 60 votes.

The House had cleared the bill on Feb. 18. [View bill as introduced in the House here.]

The new stopgap succeeds an earlier one that was due to expire at midnight Feb. 18.

Besides avoiding a shutdown, the new funding extension allows top Senate and House appropriators more time to work out a full-year omnibus spending package that would run through Sept. 30, the end of the 2022 fiscal year.

Leading appropriators from each chamber of Congress and each party have been negotiating that package. After the Senate vote, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement, "We are making progress under our omnibus framework, but there's still a lot of work to be done."

Although the new CR keeps agencies operating, the measure doesn’t fix an infrastructure funding problem. Transportation and construction advocates have been unhappy that the short extensions have not allowed the release of the full amounts of highway and transit funding that were spelled out in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). That still would require a full-year spending package, such as the envisioned omnibus.

[View ENR coverage of IIJA highway funding here and IIJA transit funding here.]

Before approving the spending measure, the Senate turned back three amendments proposed by Republicans. They include a proposal from Mike Lee (Utah) to cut off funding of Covid vaccine mandates for federal employees; one offered by Ted Cruz (Texas) that would bar federal funds for schools that enforce vaccine mandates; and a proposal from Mike Braun (Ind.), dealing with a balanced budget.