The U.S. House of Representatives approves the 2024 budget to prevent a government shutdown; it moves on to the Senate - NewssMex

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viernes, 22 de marzo de 2024

The U.S. House of Representatives approves the 2024 budget to prevent a government shutdown; it moves on to the Senate

EFE

The U.S. House of Representatives approved this Friday, just hours before government funding ran out, the budget for fiscal year 2024 with a projected expenditure of 1.2 trillion dollars.

The budget bill was approved in the House of Representatives with 286 votes in favor and 134 against.

The document required two-thirds of votes in favor for its approval, so it passed with enough margin even though a majority of Republicans (112 out of 213) and 22 Democrats voted against it.

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This result is a hard blow for the Republican leadership in the House and for its president, Mike Johnson, as they were the ones who negotiated and put the agreement to a vote, which was opposed by many of their party colleagues.

The text now goes to the Senate, with a Democratic majority, which should approve it before midnight to avoid a government shutdown.

The budget is the result of intense months-long negotiations between Republican and Democratic leaders, which includes some concessions to the hard wing of the conservatives, but not enough to satisfy them.

For example, the budget suspends funds for the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) and strengthens security at the border with Mexico with more agents and funds for surveillance.

The suspension of funds to the UNRWA was what provoked the opposing vote of a small group of Democrats.

The budget also increases Defense spending by 3%, up to 886 billion dollars.

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“I want to be very clear: any Republican who votes in favor of this bill, owns it, and is putting (winning) the elections at risk,” said Republican Congressman Chip Roy, one of the most critical of his colleagues.

Fiscal year 2024 began on October 1, 2023, but Democrats and Republicans had not been able to agree on the accounts, so Congress had approved up to four budget extensions to avoid a government shutdown due to lack of funds.

What was approved today completes the budget for the fiscal year after Congress had already approved 460 billion two weeks ago that financed approximately 30% of the government, so the accounts total more than 1.6 trillion dollars.

This closes a months-long saga that caused, in the first of the extensions, the fall of the then Speaker of the House, Republican Kevin McCarthy, within a fratricidal war of conservatives.

However, another may open: far-right Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has threatened to present a motion against Johnson, McCarthy’s successor as Speaker of the House, for having agreed on these accounts with the Democrats.

In any case, the accounts now go to the Senate, which has a few hours to approve the package before the midnight deadline and needs all its members to agree to suspend the usual procedures so that it can be voted on today.

If they do not succeed, the government of Democrat Joe Biden would enter a government shutdown, although possibly for a few hours.

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

A government shutdown implies sending hundreds of thousands of public employees home without work or pay and the paralysis of many services.

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