US Senate averts a potential government shutdown with last-minute funding bill - Hindustan Times
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US Senate averts a potential government shutdown with last-minute funding bill

Mar 01, 2024 08:53 AM IST

Senate's green light on a short-term funding bill dodges a potential US government shutdown. Joe Biden likely to sign, warning against economic fallout.

A potential US government shutdown was narrowly avoided after the Senate passed a short-term funding bill on Thursday afternoon, following a House vote earlier that day.

Chuck Schumer hails Bipartisan agreement as good news for Americans. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)
Chuck Schumer hails Bipartisan agreement as good news for Americans. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg(Bloomberg)

The Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, spoke on the floor before the vote and said he expected it to be quick.

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“This agreement is proof that when … bipartisanship is prioritized, when getting things done for the American people takes a high priority, good things can happen, even in divided government,” he stated.

The bill provides temporary funding for several departments, including agriculture, transportation, interior, Pentagon, homeland security, health and state, until different dates in March.

“These bills will adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Act discretionary spending limits and January’s top-line spending agreement,” congressional leaders announced on Wednesday.

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Biden set to sign short-term bill

The bill also reflects the consensus reached by congressional leaders on six of the 12 annual spending bills, which they intend to enact before March 8, to prevent another partial shutdown.

The short-term extension bill will be sent to Joe Biden, who is likely to sign it before the Saturday deadline. Biden met with congressional leaders earlier this week, along with Kamala Harris, and warned that a government shutdown would “significantly” harm the economy.

Congress is expected to approve more than $1.6tn in spending for the current fiscal year that started in October – similar to the previous fiscal year.

Matt Gaetz criticizes spending levels

Some of the most conservative members of the House wanted more cuts for non-defense programs than the agreement allowed through its spending caps.

“Last I checked, the Republicans actually have a majority in the House of Representatives, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at our checkbook because we are all too willing to continue the policy choices of Joe Biden and the spending levels of Nancy Pelosi,” said Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida.

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But Chuck Fleischmann, another Republican from Tennessee, urged lawmakers to vote for the short-term extension before the vote and said that shutdowns are harmful. “I want the American people to know Mr Speaker that this negotiation has been difficult, but to close the government down at a time like this would hurt people who should not be hurt,” Fleischmann said.

This year's spending bills primarily target domestic appropriations and do not encompass the $95.3 billion aid package recently approved by the Senate. This allocation is for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan. The package also included about $9bn in humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine, and other war-torn areas.

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