Biden signs bill averting US government shutdown

President Joe Biden has signed a stopgap bill passed earlier by Congress ahead of a midnight deadline to avoid forcing the US government to shut down due to lack of funding.

“There’s so much more to do. But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible and it gives us time to pass longer-term funding to keep our government running and delivering for the American people,” Biden said in a statement on Thursday night.

In a separate statement announcing the signing of the funding bill, the White House said that it also includes “supplemental appropriations” for disaster relief as well as for Afghanistan evacuees.

Earlier, the House of Representatives voted by 254 votes to 175 to keep the lights on for another two months with a resolution that had already advanced comfortably from the Senate.

“This is a good outcome, one I’m happy we are getting done,” Chuck Schumer, the top Democratic senator, told colleagues on the chamber floor ahead of the 65-35 Senate vote.

Democratic and Republican Party leaders earlier had said they were “confident that the government will not shut down come midnight”, Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro reported from Capitol Hill.

But Thursday’s votes came amid days of political wrangling and uncertainty in Washington, DC, over whether a funding bill would be approved in time.

The last time the US government was forced to enter into a partial shutdown was in late 2018, when a spending clash between Congress and former President Donald Trump furloughed workers and stalled programmes for 35 days.

The stopgap government spending bill includes $6.3bn in assistance to pay for the US military’s August airlift from Kabul airport and for Afghan refugee resettlement programmes.

Democratic and Republican Party leaders earlier had said they were “confident that the government will not shut down come midnight”, Al Jazeera’s Heidi Zhou-Castro reported from Capitol Hill.

But Thursday’s votes came amid days of political wrangling and uncertainty in Washington, DC, over whether a funding bill would be approved in time.

The last time the US government was forced to enter into a partial shutdown was in late 2018, when a spending clash between Congress and former President Donald Trump furloughed workers and stalled programmes for 35 days.

The stopgap government spending bill includes $6.3bn in assistance to pay for the US military’s August airlift from Kabul airport and for Afghan refugee resettlement programmes.

Senator Joe Manchin, a holdout among Democrats on the $3.5-trillion spending plan in the Senate, told reporters at the US Capitol that he was willing to negotiate with progressives on a smaller budget bill around $1.5 trillion.

“I’m willing to sit down and negotiate that $1.5 trillion and get our priorities and … they can come back and do the rest of it later,” Manchin said.

Behind closed doors, Democrats were negotiating over which favoured proposals to curtail or cut among tax cuts for the middle-class, paid family leave and child care, early childhood education, boosts in healthcare benefits for the elderly and clean energy provisions essential to the US meeting its climate goals.

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