The threat of the United States federal government shutdown was lifted hours before Saturday’s midnight deadline as president Joe Biden signed a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open after Congress rushed to approve the bipartisan deal.
The package drops aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of Republican politicians, but increases federal disaster assistance by 16 billion dollars (€15.1 billion), meeting Mr Biden’s full request.
The bill funds government until November 17th.
After days of turmoil, speaker Kevin McCarthy abandoned demands for steep spending cuts from his right flank and relied on Democrats to pass the bill. The Senate followed with final passage, closing a whirlwind day at the Capitol.
In a statement, Mr Biden said: “This is good news for the American people.”
He also said the US “cannot, under any circumstances, allow American support for Ukraine to be interrupted” and expected Mr McCarthy “will keep his commitment to the people of Ukraine and secure passage of the support needed to help” the war-torn country “at this critical moment”.
The resolution followed a sudden turn of events in Congress after the government was pushed to the brink of a disruptive federal shutdown.
This outcome may be the end of this threat, but the reprieve may be short-lived.
Congress will need to fund the government in coming weeks with views hardening, particularly among the right-flank lawmakers whose demands were swept aside this time in favour of a more bipartisan approach.
“We’re going to do our job,” Mr McCarthy said before the vote. “We’re going to be adults in the room. And we’re going to keep government open.”
If no deal was in place before Sunday, federal workers would have faced furloughs, more than two million active-duty and reserve military troops would have had to work without pay and services that people rely on would have faced shutdown disruptions.
“It has been a day full of twists and turns but the American people can breathe a sigh of relief: There will be no government shutdown,” said senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer.
The package funds government at existing levels until mid-November and extends other provisions, including for the Federal Aviation Administration and was approved by the house 335-91 with most Republicans and almost all Democrats supporting. Senate passage came by an 88-9 vote.
The loss of Ukraine aid, however, was devastating for politicians of both parties who vowed to support president Volodymyr Zelenskiy after his recent Washington visit.
The Senate bill included 6 billion dollars for Ukraine and both chambers came to a standstill on Saturday as politicians assessed their options. – PA