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U.S. Congress Approves Bill to Prevent Government Shutdown, Forwards to Biden for Signature

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a stopgap bill to fund the federal government through early March. This move aims to prevent a partial government shutdown.

Vote Details in the House

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The measure saw a significant majority in favor, passing 314-108. The opposition included 106 Republicans and two Democrats, reflecting a mix of political stances.

Senate’s Earlier Approval

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Prior to the House’s decision, the Senate had already passed the bill with a 77-18 vote. This action came just before the weekend deadline, indicating the urgency of the situation.

Schumer’s Announcement of No Shutdown

Senator Schumer Says He Will Put Short-Term Government Funding Bill On Senate Floor Tuesday. January 14, 2024, New York, New York, USA: Senate Majority Leader, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announces he will bring legislation to the Senate — Photo by thenews2.com

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced, “There will not be a shutdown on Friday.” His statement came as a relief, confirming the government’s operational continuity.

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Accelerated Voting Due to Weather Concerns

Both chambers expedited their votes due to an impending Friday snowstorm. This weather forecast threatened to disrupt lawmakers’ plans for the weekend.

Delays in Government Funding

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The Senate and House have been delayed in funding the government for the fiscal year that began on October 1. This has led to a scramble to maintain government operations while working on a full-year bill.

Disagreement on Spending Levels

 
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Early this month, Schumer and House Republican Mike Johnson agreed to a $1.59 trillion discretionary spending level. However, there’s now a disagreement, with Democrats stating the actual amount is $1.66 trillion.

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Tensions Over Spending and National Debt

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The debate between Republicans seeking spending cuts and Democrats occurs against the backdrop of a $34.4 trillion national debt. Concerns are growing due to escalating interest payments borne by the Treasury Department.

The Continuing Resolution

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The “continuing resolution” or “CR” extends last fiscal year’s spending levels until March 1 and March 8 deadlines. This is necessary for completing spending actions for various government agencies.

Potential Impact of Government Shutdowns

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Democratic Representative Josh Gottheimer outlined the severe impacts of potential government agency shutdowns. These include worsening backlogs in veterans’ disability benefits and suspension of critical services.

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Frustration in the Appropriations Committee

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Senator Susan Collins, a senior Republican on the Appropriations Committee, expressed frustration over the delay in allocating funds for the full-year budget. She noted the prolonged nature of the process.

Challenges for House Republican Johnson

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In the House, Mike Johnson may face opposition from hardline party members. These members are against stopgap funding bills that don’t include significant spending cuts.

Aim to Avert Shutdown

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The approval of the stopgap funding bill by both the House and Senate reflects a crucial step in averting a government shutdown. However, it also highlights ongoing challenges and disagreements in Congress regarding fiscal management and government spending.

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