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The U.S. Congress has prevented a government shutdown by approving a $1.2 trillion budget

Early on Saturday, the U.S. Congress decisively passed a $1.2 trillion budget bill, ensuring government funding for the fiscal year that began six months ago. The bill now heads to President Joe Biden for his signature, averting a partial shutdown. The passage vote stood at 74-24.

Crucial federal agencies such as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, State, and Treasury, including the Internal Revenue Service, will continue to be funded through September 30 following the bill’s approval in the Democratic-majority Senate.

However, the bill did not allocate funding for military aid to Ukraine, Taiwan, or Israel, which are part of a separate Senate-passed bill disregarded by the Republican-led House of Representatives.

Senate leaders engaged in lengthy negotiations on Friday over several amendments to the budget bill, all of which were eventually rejected, causing a delay that extended beyond the Friday midnight deadline. Nonetheless, the White House Office of Management and Budget reassured that agencies would not be directed to shut down, expressing confidence in the Senate’s swift passage of the bill, which indeed occurred.

Despite Congress completing its task, stark partisan divisions were once again evident, along with bitter disagreement within the House’s narrow Republican majority. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conservative firebrand, threatened to force a vote to remove Speaker Mike Johnson, a fellow Republican, for allowing the bill’s passage.

The 1,012-page bill allocates $886 billion in funding for the Defense Department, including raises for U.S. troops. President Biden, a Democrat, has signaled his intention to sign it.

Johnson, in a maneuver he has employed more than 60 times since assuming his role, bypassed hardliners within his party to secure passage of the bill. This maneuver allowed the bill to pass by a 286-134 vote, with significantly more Democratic support than Republican.

For the past six months, the government has relied on four short-term stopgap measures, indicating repeated brinkmanship that ratings agencies have cautioned could impact the federal government’s creditworthiness, given its nearly $34.6 trillion debt.

Republican Senator Susan Collins, one of the main negotiators, emphasized the bill’s significance as a national security measure, attributing 70% of the funding to bolstering national defense, military readiness, and support for allies.

Opponents criticized the bill as overly costly, with Senator Rand Paul labeling it reckless and inflationary.

The last partial federal government shutdown occurred during Donald Trump’s presidency due to disagreements over funding for a border wall. The current budget bill passed the House with a mixture of Democratic and Republican votes, prompting Greene to attempt Johnson’s removal.

Despite the turmoil, some Democrats expressed willingness to support Johnson if he were to call a vote on a $95 billion security assistance package for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, although such a vote is unlikely in the near term as lawmakers depart Washington for a two-week break.

With the looming departure of two members from Johnson’s caucus, his majority will narrow to 217-213, posing challenges for future legislative efforts.

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