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US senate passes government funding bill, averting shutdown

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In an uncommon display of bipartisan cooperation, the US Congress endorsed a funding bill on Saturday, ensuring the continuous operation of federal agencies until September and sidestepping a potentially detrimental partial government shutdown. Despite missing the midnight deadline to pass the $1.2 trillion package, senators rallied in the early hours to approve a resolution that had previously gained traction in the House.

Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, amidst hours of tense negotiations, remarked on the Senate floor, “It wasn’t easy, but tonight our persistence has been worth it.” He emphasized the significance of reaching a bipartisan consensus, stating, “It is good for the American people that we have reached a bipartisan agreement to finish the job.”

The day unfolded with high-stakes drama on Capitol Hill as the House of Representatives greenlit a $1.2 trillion, six-bill package on Friday, representing a pivotal segment of federal funding. With funding on the brink of depletion for three-quarters of the government, including critical sectors like defense and homeland security, the Senate faced a race against time to advance the legislation to President Joe Biden’s desk.

As negotiations teetered on the brink of breakdown, both parties sought amendments to the legislation to align with their campaign narratives and priorities ahead of the forthcoming presidential election. Senators were on the verge of adjournment without a resolution, threatening the initiation of shutdown procedures by the White House Office of Management and Budget.

However, a last-minute agreement materialized just as the midnight deadline loomed, prompting the Senate to pass the resolution after 2:00 am local time in Washington. The White House affirmed that shutdown preparations had ceased, expressing confidence in Congress’s imminent passage of appropriations and the subsequent presidential approval of the bill.

Earlier, Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson had drawn ire from his own party’s conservative faction by relying on Democratic support to propel the funding package forward. Notably, Marjorie Taylor Greene, a staunch ally of former President Donald Trump, initiated a motion against the speaker’s chair endorsement over disagreements concerning the funding package.

The resolution, requiring a simple majority for passage, echoes a previous instance that led to the removal of former speaker Kevin McCarthy. The aftermath of Greene’s motion remains uncertain, although the House’s current recess extends the timeline for potential proceedings. Greene asserted substantial Republican backing for her initiative, underscoring the underlying tensions within the party.

The prospective shutdown threatened to disrupt approximately 70 percent of government agencies and departments, with earlier bills covering essential sectors like agriculture and transportation having passed without significant contention. Nonetheless, disagreements over homeland security funding prolonged negotiations, fueling discontent among Republican hard-liners regarding border security provisions and the expedited negotiation process.

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