Congress Approves $460bn Spending Deal, Prevents Government Shutdown

A partial government shutdown was avoided when lawmakers in the US Senate passed a spending deal just before midnight.

The lower house voted 75–22 on Friday to accept a spending package of six bills worth $460bn. These bills will pay for programs in agriculture, transportation, housing, energy, veterans’ care, and other areas until the end of the fiscal year on September 30.

There would have been no power in many offices and agencies this weekend if the money hadn’t been passed.

After months of gridlock in a Congress that was very divided, the vote was an important step towards finalizing the government budget for 2024. President Joe Biden has been sent the bill to sign into law.

In a speech before the bill was passed, Chuck Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, called it a “major step” towards fully funding the government.

“To folks who worry that divided government means nothing ever gets done, this bipartisan package says otherwise: it helps parents and veterans and firefighters and farmers and school cafeterias and more,” he added.

The bill easily passed this week in the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans. Some conservative Republicans pushed for votes on immigration and other issues, which slowed down work in the Senate.

Congress still needs to agree on a much bigger set of spending bills that will pay for things like healthcare, the military, and border security. The money for these projects runs out on March 22.

The government’s annual budget, which is made up of the package that just passed and the bills that are still being worked on, would cost $1.66 trillion.

By October 1, the beginning of the 2024 fiscal year, all of these steps should have become laws. Congress doesn’t usually meet that deadline, but this year’s debate has been very chaotic, with leaders relying on a series of stopgap bills to keep government agencies funded for a few more weeks or months while they try to agree on how to spend money for the whole year.

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