South Asia and Beyond

US Congress Approves Stopgap Bill To Avert Govt Shutdown

 US Congress Approves Stopgap Bill To Avert Govt Shutdown

The US Congress has approved a stopgap measure to avert a potential government shutdown. The Republican-led House of Representative and Democratic Senate approved a short-term “continuing resolution”.

The bill provides temporary funding for departments including agriculture, transportation, interior, Pentagon, homeland security, health and state.

The stopgap funding bill approved under this Congress only gives lawmakers a few extra days to get it back on track.

The Senate passed the legislation in a 77-13 vote, hours after the House passed the legislation in a 320-99 vote, with two Democrats and 97 Republicans voting against the bill to continue funding several federal agencies.

The extension comes after congressional leaders said there was agreement on six of the 12 annual spending bills and plans for them to be signed before March 8, before they would face another partial shutdown.

US president Joe Biden termed this as damage control and hoped that the funding would be cleared very soon.

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“This bipartisan agreement prevents a damaging shutdown and allows more time for Congress to work toward full-year funding bills. That’s good news for the American people. But I want to be clear: this is a short-term fix—not a long-term solution,” Biden said in a statement calling on Republicans to pass full-year funding bills.

Biden is likely to sign the short-term extension bill before the deadline. The president met congressional leaders earlier in the week and warned that a government shutdown would “significantly” harm the economy.

The funding deadline for the remaining six bills would be pushed back by two weeks, to March 22.

The focus on these spending bills does not include the separate, $95.3bn aid package that the Senate approved for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan earlier this month.

Congress faces further battles in the coming weeks over funding levels for many programmes that the Republicans want to see scaled back.