US House of Representatives | Credits: Reuters
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US House passes stopgap funding bill, averting govt shutdown until March, what could be a possible next step?

United States: On Thursday, the US House of Representatives passed a stopgap bill that would fund the federal government through early March and prevent a partial government shutdown process for President Biden’s signature.

It was approved 314-108 votes, with all the Republicans and two (2) Democrats voting against.

Before the weekend deadline on Thursday, earlier in the day, The Senate had easily passed this act by a vote of 77-18.

America has something positive to celebrate — there will be no Government shutdown on Friday, shared Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, as he spoke from the floor of the Senate just before voting in that chamber, according to a report by Reuters.

“It’s a loss for the American people to join hands with Democrats, form a governing coalition to do what Schumer and the Senate want to do,” House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Good told reporters after the vote.

Weather Urgency

Both chambers accelerated their votes due to a forecast of snowfall on Friday, which might have delayed legislators’ departure for the weekend.

The Democratic-majority Senate and Republican-controlled House are far behind in carrying out their fundamental task of funding the government for the fiscal year that began on October 1, with lawmakers trying to keep the lights on to allow themselves more time to adopt a full-year budget.

Congressional Disagreements

Schumer and his House Republican counterpart, Mike Johnson, agreed earlier this month to a discretionary spending amount of $1.59 trillion for the fiscal year ending September 30. But, as a reflection of how severely divided Congress is, the two parties now disagree on that figure, with Democrats claiming the actual sum agreed upon is $1.66 trillion.

US Republican Representatives | Credits: Reuters

National Debt and Expenditure Cuts Debate

The aggressive jockeying between House Republicans seeking major expenditure cuts and Democrats comes amid a quickly increasing $34.4 trillion national debt, which has raised concerns due to the Treasury Department’s high-interest payments.

Continuing Resolution and March Deadlines

This third stopgap funding bill, known as a “continuing resolution” or “CR,” would essentially extend the previous fiscal year’s spending levels until two deadlines of March 1 and March 8 to complete spending actions for various government departments.

With the temporary funding package on its approach to passage, the focus switches to the need to pass the 12 items that comprise the full-year budget.

In the House, Johnson may meet opposition from hardline members of his party who oppose stopgap financing packages that do not include severe expenditure cuts.

That displeasure resulted in Johnson’s predecessor, Kevin McCarthy, being removed from office last November.

Former speaker of US House of Representatives – Kevin McCarthy | Credits: Reuters

Despite the lack of support from House Republicans, several of these hardliners have expressed tolerance for Johnson.

“He’s just playing the cards he’s dealt,” said Representative Tim Burchett, referring to Johnson.

Burchett had voted to oust McCarthy from the speakership after a bipartisan stopgap vote in September. “It doesn’t really upset me anymore. It’s just reality,” he said. “Johnson didn’t create this problem.”

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