Home Economy News US Senate advances spending bill, but government shutdown possible

US Senate advances spending bill, but government shutdown possible


US Senate advances spending bill, but government shutdown possible By Reuters

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Published Mar 08, 2024 06:02AM ET
Updated Mar 08, 2024 02:25PM ET

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People walk past the U.S. Capitol building as the deadline to avoid partial government shutdown looms in Washington, U.S., January 18, 2024. REUTERS/Leah Millis/ FILE PHOTO

By Makini Brice, Richard Cowan and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Senate on Friday advanced legislation that would fund several federal agencies through September, but it was unclear whether the chamber would be able to pass it in time to avert a partial government shutdown due to begin at midnight.

The $467.5 billion spending package would fund agriculture, transportation, housing, energy, veterans and other programs through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. It easily passed the Republican-controlled House of Representatives earlier this week.

The bill passed a procedural hurdle by a bipartisan vote of 63 to 35.

The Senate is expected to eventually pass the bill and send it on to Democratic President Joe Biden to sign into law.

But it is unclear whether lawmakers will meet their midnight deadline. Several Republicans said they would not agree to a quick vote unless they were allowed to hold votes on other matters, like immigration.

That could delay a final vote until Saturday evening, forcing a partial shutdown unless Congress agreed to a temporary funding extension to avoid disruption.

“There’s a risk of a shutdown, which I don’t think anybody wants. So, I assume once the realization sinks in that there’s probably not going to be any changes to the bill, that hopefully we’ll move up the vote,” Republican Senator John Cornyn said.

A shutdown beginning on the weekend would have far less immediate impact than one launching on a business day.

Even if approved, the legislation does not end all arguments over government spending for this fiscal year.

Still to come is the debate over a final, much more expensive bunch of bills for the military, homeland security, health programs, financial services, foreign operations and other annual funding. Congress faces a March 22 deadline for passing those.

All these bills were supposed to have been enacted into law by last Oct. 1, the start of the 2024 fiscal year. While Congress rarely meets that deadline, the debate this year has been unusually chaotic.

Far-right Republicans have pushed for deeper spending cuts to tame a $34.5 trillion national debt, leaving the House leaderless for three weeks last fall.

Congress so far has had to approve four temporary funding bills to keep agency operations limping along at their previous year’s levels.

US Senate advances spending bill, but government shutdown possible

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