The US Congress has approved a $1.1 trillion spending bill, heading off the
threat of a second federal government in 14 months.
After a prolonged debate, the measure cleared the Senate by 56 votes to 40. It
was narrowly approved by the House of Representatives on Thursday.
It means that America will be spared the chaos of last October when the
government shut down created chaos.
Last year’s deadlock closed down government departments and agencies including
Nasa, which runs the country’s space programme, as well as world-famous
landmarks from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty.
The White House has indicated that President Barack Obama will approve the
1,603-page bill, thus providing cash to keep the federal government and
agencies running until the end of September.
One notable exception was the Department of Homeland Security, whose funding
has only been agreed until the end of February.
Senators agreed a package which will include $5 billion to counter the
Jihadist Islamic State and $5.4 billion to tackle the Ebola crisis.
Agreement came at the end of a bruising battle marked by ill tempered haggling
which came to an end after a rare Saturday session.
There there divisions between the parties, with the Republicans trying to
limit the President’s freedom of action, notably over immigration.
But the battle between the Republican establishment and the right wing Tea
Party was also laid bare. Moderates rounded on Ted Cruz, a potential
right-wing standard bearer in the battle for the Republican for trying to
cut funds for the President’s proposed immigration amnesty.
This in turn led to the unravelling of a bipartisan agreement to spare the
Senate having to sit over the weekend.
It left senators, many of whom having been forced to cancel holiday plans,
trudging through a series of more than two dozen votes
Democrats in turn were unhappy at the price they had to pay for the passage of
the spending bill including easing restrictions on banks which were imposed
after the 2008 financial crash.
The agreement will be a relief for the President who will face a far more
difficult Congress when in the new year when, as a result of the midterm
elections, the Republicans will control both the Senate and House of
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