Photo: Biden signs stopgap funding bill
by Kristen Ku
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Oct. 2, 2023
The United States government narrowly avoided a shutdown late Saturday night, as members of the House and Senate reached a last-minute agreement to extend funding by 45 days, ensuring that federal services remain operational. This temporary agreement, signed just hours before the October 1 deadline, brought a collective sigh of relief amidst a climate of heightened political tension.
The funding extension was a last-minute measure that was put forth as an option as lawmakers scrambled to avoid a government shutdown that would have furloughed thousands of federal workers and brought essential services to a halt.
“Tonight, bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted to keep the government open, preventing an unnecessary crisis that would have inflicted needless pain on millions of hardworking Americans,” the President of the United States, Joe Biden, said in a statement.
A shutdown in the US occurs when both chambers of Congress fail to come to an agreement on 30% of federal spending by October 1st, otherwise known as the beginning of a new fiscal year.
The temporary spending bill, now signed into law by President Biden, ensures government operations continue uninterrupted until a more comprehensive budget agreement is formed.
However, the approval of the stopgap funding bill was met with a mixed response. While it has prevented an immediate crisis, it excludes continued support for Ukraine as it battles its ongoing war with Russia. On the other hand, it ensures an increase in federal disaster assistance by $16 billion.
Surprisingly, within the House of Representatives, the final vote on the bill was 335-91, with 209 Democrats (Biden administration) and 126 Republicans voting in its favor.
One of those Republicans just so happens to be House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who has been under fire from his own party after voting in favor of the bill and has enraged the hardline conservative members who had voted against it.
Reports are indicating that his party has threatened to remove him from his position after he supported and relied on Democratic votes. However, according to McCarthy, what he did was for his country. “I want to be the adult in the room; go ahead and try. And you know what? If I have to risk my job to stand up for the American public, I will do that,” he told US reporters.
This isn’t the first time the possibility of a government shutdown has loomed on Capitol Hill.
Government shutdowns typically cost the economy millions of dollars each day.
The new temporary funding bill is set to run up until November 17, before which further agreements will be made.