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US Congress prevents another partial shutdown

As is often the case, the agreement came close: the US Congress approved a budget law and thereby prevented a partial shutdown. However, a compromise still needs to be found in some areas.

Shortly before the end of the next budget deadline, the US Congress approved a spending package worth billions, thereby averting a partial administrative standstill – the so-called shutdown. After the House of Representatives, the Senate also voted 75 to 22 in the evening for a budget worth more than $460 billion that will ensure funding for numerous areas and programs until the end of September.

Funding for these programs would have expired at midnight, prompting a shutdown. The package now needs to be signed by President Joe Biden.

Agreement in other areas is still pending

Although the US fiscal year that begins in October is already more than five months old, the Democrats and Republicans in Congress have not yet been able to agree on a regular budget. Instead, they are adopting a series of interim budgets to prevent temporary government closures.

However, not all twelve spending bills have been passed yet, only those for agriculture, trade, justice, energy, transportation and veterans. In areas such as defense and homeland security, a compromise must now be found by March 22nd.

Bickering between Democrats and Republicans

“For people who worry that divided government means nothing ever gets accomplished, this bipartisan package proves otherwise,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote.

Democrats and Republicans must work together on the budget. Biden's Democrats make up the majority in the Senate and Republicans in the House of Representatives. Approval from both chambers is necessary.

Finding a compromise is made more difficult by dissent within the Republican ranks. Its ultra-right wing is taking a much harder line in the budget dispute than the moderate conservatives.

It happens regularly that Congress first makes do with passing an interim budget and then a few months later argues again about the financing of government operations. As now, an agreement is usually only reached very close to the deadline.

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