RICHMOND TIMES-DISPATCH, ANDREW CAIN
Most members of Virginia’s congressional delegation breathed a sigh of relief Saturday afternoon after the House of Representatives passed a 45-day stopgap measure to avoid a federal government shutdown that would have particularly hurt Virginia, home to more than 140,000 civilian federal employees and more than 126,000 active-duty military personnel.
As the Senate prepared to take up the measure Saturday night, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., lamented its lack of funding for Ukraine, but said he was likely to vote in favor of the resolution in order to prevent a government shutdown at midnight. Many lawmakers said they will renew the fight for Ukraine aid.
“It’s sad that you have to play brinksmanship at the 11th hour, frightening a whole lot of people,” Kaine said in an interview with MSNBC shortly after the House overwhelmingly backed the stopgap bill on a vote of 335-91.
“And it’s sad that Senate and House Republicans are backing away from the commitments we’ve made to Ukraine, but we have to vote to keep the government open.”
Kaine and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., voted for the stopgap measure Saturday night. Kaine and Warner said in a statement that in the next 47 days, they will “continue to work to pass bipartisan spending bills that renew our commitment to Ukraine in its fight for democracy and advance crucial Virginia priorities.”
In interviews with and in messages to the Richmond Times-Dispatch in recent days, Virginians had expressed worries about the effects of a potential shutdown. Federal workers expressed concerns about paying bills while missing paychecks. Others expressed fears about the potential effects on aid for child nutrition and about how a closure of Shenandoah National Park in October would hurt small businesses that rely on tourism income.
The six Democrats in Virginia’s U.S. House delegation voted in favor of the stopgap measure Saturday, as did two Republicans, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, whose district includes large swaths of Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover counties; and Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-2nd, a retired U.S. Navy helicopter pilot whose district, based in Virginia Beach, includes a large military presence.
Three Virginia Republicans voted against the stopgap spending bill: Reps. Bob Good, R-5th; Ben Cline, R-6th; and Morgan Griffith, R-9th.
Wittman said in a statement: “Congress has a responsibility to keep our government open and operating in order to provide essential services to our constituents, while at the same time ensuring the government functions responsibly and effectively. We also have a responsibility to ensure our brave men and women in uniform and our border patrol agents continue to be paid for their service, which this bill will ensure.”
Rep. Jennifer McClellan, D-4th, whose district includes Richmond and parts of Chesterfield and Henrico, criticized what she termed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s “inability to govern” and what she termed “extreme MAGA Republicans’ desire” to shut down the government.
“Today, I was proud to cast my vote for this Continuing Resolution to protect the 170,000 federal workers and 130,000 active-duty servicemembers in Virginia, who would have been furloughed or forced to work without a paycheck in the event of a shutdown,” McClellan said.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger, D-7th, represents 59,210 civilian federal employees in a Northern Virginia district that extends from eastern Prince William County through Fredericksburg to Caroline County.
“We should never have come this close to a government shutdown,” Spanberger said in a statement. “For days, thousands of Virginians I represent feared a situation where they would be forced to work without pay, become furloughed, or struggle to make ends meet. And for months, Virginia’s businesses were sounding the alarm about the devastating effects of shutdowns on Virginia’s economy.”
The deal to keep the government open also removes what could have been an anvil for GOP candidates vying in crucial legislative elections in Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads as Virginians decide who will control the House of Delegates and the state Senate.
Good, a member of the conservative U.S. House Freedom Caucus, acknowledged in an interview with Politico that Gov. Glenn Youngkin had called him in recent days to express his concerns about a potential shutdown.
Youngkin “has reached out and expressed his concern on Virginia as he appropriately should as governor,” said Good, whose district includes part of Hanover County.
After Saturday’s House vote, Good chastised McCarthy, the House speaker, for bringing the continuing resolution to a vote.
“Kevin McCarthy put a CR on the Floor that got 209 Democrat votes, since it kept in place the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer policies that are destroying the country and the spending levels that are bankrupting us,” Good posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Sadly, it also got 126 Republican votes. Uni-Party rule.”