US Senate passes stopgap bill, government shutdown postponed for now

The bill provides only two months’ relief till the next deadline of January 19

People walk past the US Capitol building in Washington, US on November 15, 2023.  -Reuters
People walk past the US Capitol building in Washington, US on November 15, 2023. -Reuters

The US Senate averted a partial government shutdown by passing a stopgap spending bill with an 87-11 vote, which now awaits President Joe Biden’s signature.

The move comes as a temporary solution, providing just a two-month respite until the next deadline of January 19. The measure received bipartisan support, reflecting a rare consensus in modern American politics.

The bill, authored by Speaker Mike Johnson, maintains spending levels established in the May agreement with Biden and avoids controversial issues such as abortion.

It is important to avoid a government shutdown, given recent fiscal impasses and near-miss scenarios that have brought Washington to the brink of default on its substantial debt. A near miss last fall in October led to Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s ouster.

While Democrats welcomed the collaborative approach, some hardline Republicans expressed dissatisfaction with the agreement. Despite the temporary solution, he vowed to address federal spending concerns if funding expires again. Representative Chip Roy stressed the expectation of a fight upon lawmakers’ return.

The legislation extends funding for a variety of sectors, including military construction, veterans benefits, transportation, housing, urban development, agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and energy and water programs, through January 19. Funding for other federal functions, including defense, would end. On 2 February.

These recurring battles over funding and a potential government shutdown have hindered progress on other important proposals, such as President Biden’s request for $106 billion in aid for Israel, Ukraine and U.S. border security.

Persistent fiscal uncertainties have prevented lawmakers from addressing key issues and obligations, reflecting the urgency of a more stable and comprehensive fiscal approach.

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