US Senate passes temporary spending bill to prevent government shutdown

Xinhua
The US Senate passed a temporary spending bill on Wednesday to fund the federal government into December.
Xinhua
US Senate passes temporary spending bill to prevent government shutdown
AFP

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin departs from the office of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at the US Capitol on September 30, 2020, in Washington, DC. 

The US Senate passed a temporary spending bill on Wednesday to fund the federal government into December, just a few hours before the annual spending bill would expire and the government was set to shut down.

The upper chamber approved the bill in an 84-10 vote, following the House's passage last week. The measure has been sent to President Donald Trump, who will likely sign it into law to avoid a federal funding lapse just weeks before the presidential election.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached an agreement with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republicans on the so-called continuing resolution (CR) legislation last week, which includes US$8 billion in additional food assistance and US$21 billion in farm aid.

House lawmakers passed the bill with a bipartisan vote of 359-57.

The last government shutdown, from December 2018 to January 2019, was triggered by an impasse over funding for Trump's proposed US-Mexico border wall. It lasted for 35 days, the longest on record.

The stopgap funding measure came as Democratic and Republican lawmakers remain deadlocked over the next COVID-19 relief package, which is much needed to salvage an economy reeling from the pandemic.

Pelosi and Mnuchin resumed their talks earlier this week over a US$2.2-trillion relief package newly proposed by House Democrats, a scaled-back package of a US$3.4-trillion proposal the Democratic-held House passed in May.

Some Senate Republicans have signaled they're not willing to support any package that costs over US$1.5 trillion. Sticking points include more aid for state and local government and liability protections for businesses.

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