The US Congress approves a one-week budget extension to avoid government shutdown

EFE

The United States Senate gave final approval to the one-week budget extension agreed upon yesterday between Republicans and Democrats, just hours before part of the funds available to finance the government were set to expire on March 1.

By a vote of 77 in favor and 13 against, the U.S. Senate finally approved the bill, and only the signature of President Joe Biden is pending, which he will likely put on it in the coming hours.

"What we have done today is overcome the opposition of the far right," said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer just before the vote. The government shutdown has been avoided "without capitulating to extremists," he added.

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The Senate vote took place a few hours after the House of Representatives did the same and said yes to the bill, which received 320 votes in favor and 99 against.

Almost half of the Republican congressmen who voted—97 out of 210—voted against the budget bill agreed upon by their leaders and the Democratic majority.

The current funds finance some federal agencies until March 1 and others until March 8, while the approved bill extends the first date until March 8 and the second until March 22.

Congress has been approving successive budget extensions—this is the fourth—since the current fiscal year began on October 1, 2023, five months ago.

Almost all of them have been approved at the limit of exhausting resources, which would lead to a government shutdown.

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In parallel with the approval of the extensions, the two parties are negotiating the budgets for the fiscal year 2024, which started five months ago and runs until September 30.

In fact, the White House is expected to release its requests for the budget for fiscal year 2025 on March 11, when Congress has not even approved the 2024 budget.

Whenever a government shutdown is less than a week away, the White House activates a protocol to prepare all its departments.

A government shutdown would mean sending hundreds of thousands of public employees home without work or pay and the halt of many services.

The last such shutdown occurred during the presidency of Republican Donald Trump (2017-2021) and was, at 35 days (from December 22, 2018, to January 29, 2019), the longest in history during the Christmas holidays.