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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Congress passes government funding bill that avoids shutdown

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254 members supported the legislation and 175 voted no. But debt ceiling remains.

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The House of Representatives passed a bill to keep the government running until 3 December.

The Senate had passed what is known as a continuing resolution to keep the government open earlier in the day with 65 Senators voting in favour. This came after Republican Senators blocked a continuing resolution that would have also suspended the nation’s debt ceiling earlier in the week.

The House voted for the same bill in the afternoon with 254 members supporting the resolution and 175 members voting against it. All 220 Democratic members voted for the bill along with 34 Republicans.

The resolution takes one must-pass item off Congress’ list and on to President Joe Biden’s desk. But Congress still needs to pass legislation to suspend the nation’s debt limit.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned the Senate earlier this week that the department would be out of cash and risk default by 18 October.

Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi questioned why Congress constantly finds itself teetering toward a crisis when it comes to the debt limit.

“For some reason, we’ve put ourselves in a situation to vote on this each year,” she told reporters. “We’ll have to examine that process.”

The continuing resolution also comes the same day that the House is scheduled to vote on a massive $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that already passed the Senate with bipartisan support in July. Many moderate Democrats wanted the bipartisan bill to come to a vote earlier and Ms Pelosi pledged a vote this week.

At the same time, many progressive Democrats such as Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar do not want to vote on the bill until the Senate finishes working on a second bill that includes plans to combat climate change along with new social spending initiatives such as child care, paid family leave, tuition-free community college, home care for elders and people with disabilities and including dental, hearing and vision care to Medicare.

But moderate Democratic Sen Joe Manchin of West Virginia raised serious objections about the reconciliation bill.

“Suggesting that spending trillions more will not have an impact on inflation ignores the everyday reality that America’s families continue pay an unavoidable inflation tax,” Mr Manchin said in a statement Wednesday evening.

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