Congress passes last-minute measure to avert government shutdown

Emily Shugerman
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Congress has voted to continue government funding through 5 May, averting a government shut down for at least a week.

Members of Congress clamoured to put together a funding bill for the 2017 fiscal year by Friday’s deadline, but were unable to reach consensus. The bill passed today gives Congress one more week to decide on a budget for the current year.

Republican leadership introduced the stopgap measure – commonly referred to as a “continuing resolution” – late Wednesday night. A failure to pass the bill would have resulted in a government shutdown that would close national parks, delay tax refunds and suspend thousands of federal employees’ pay.

“This Continuing Resolution will continue to keep the government open and operating as normal for the next several days, in order to finalise legislation to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen said upon introducing the bill.

Mr Frelinghuysen said he is “optimistic” that the final funding package will be completed soon.

Congressional staff worked late into the night on Thursday to hammer out the details of a spending package, but were unable to reach agreement.

"We're willing to extend things for a little bit more time in hopes that the same kind of progress can continue to be made, but we still have a little bit of a ways to go," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.


The most recent version of the spending package includes several major concessions for Republicans, including continued funding for a key component of Obamacare, which Republicans have so far failed to repeal. Democrats threatened not to pass the continuing resolution this week if Republicans forced a vote on the latest version of their repeal and replace bill.

"If Republicans announce their intention to bring their harmful TrumpCare bill to the House Floor tomorrow or Saturday, I will oppose a one-week continuing resolution and will advise House Democrats to oppose it as well," Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer said on Thursday.

The package also omits funding for the US-Mexico border wall – one of Mr Trump’s key campaign promises.

In an interview with Reuters, the president seemed unconcerned about the possibility of a shutdown, saying, "We'll see what happens."

"If there's a shutdown, there's a shutdown," Mr Trump said. If the shutdown did occur, he added, it would be the Democrats' fault.

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