Shutdown seems averted: US MPs for interim budget

The feared standstill of government business in the USA appears to have been averted. Members of the US House of Representatives approved a draft interim budget bill on Tuesday (local time) with more than the required two-thirds majority. Without approval, employees in parts of the public administration, among others, would no longer have received their salaries from Saturday. The Senate, the other chamber of the US Congress, must now approve the proposal. This is considered a formality because the Democrats have a majority in the Senate and had already commented positively on the draft. The Republican leadership there has also already signaled its approval.

A vote is expected later this week. After that, President Joe Biden still has to sign the draft. However, this excludes the billions in support requested by Biden for Israel and Ukraine as well as new money for the US border protection with Mexico. These points would have to be decided separately later, just like a regular budget with a longer term. 336 members of the House of Representatives voted for the draft, 95 parliamentarians rejected it.

Only two Democrats voted against it

The bill would fund around a fifth of the money for government operations and federal agencies through Jan. 19, including money for military and veterans, agriculture and transportation. The other four-fifths, such as the State Department, Commerce, Labor and Health, will be funded through February 2, according to The Washington Post.

The newly elected Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, introduced the bill last week. However, 93 of his party colleagues rejected the proposal because they wanted to categorically prevent the increase in some expenditure items it contained. Only 127 Republicans voted for it. The draft was only successful with the votes of 209 Democrats, two Democrats voted against it.

The term of the current interim budget, which was only passed by the US Congress at the beginning of October, ends on Saturday. Until then, a solution must be found to avert the insolvency of the public administration. The political wrangling repeats itself every year – usually Congress makes do by passing an interim budget and then fights again a few months later over the financing of government operations.

Jean Harris

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