Andrew Caballero-Reynolds Agence France-Presse “We are going to do our job, declared the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Republican Kevin McCarthy before the vote. We are going to behave like adults. We will not shut down the government.”
Kevin Freking – Associated Press and Lisa Mascaro – Associated Press in Washington
September 30, 2023
- United States
The threat of a U.S. federal government shutdown ended Saturday evening, hours before the midnight deadline, when Congress approved a temporary funding bill to keep agencies open and sent the measure for President Joe Biden to sign.
Aid to Ukraine, a White House priority opposed by a growing number of GOP lawmakers, was cut, but federal disaster aid was increased by US$16 billion , which corresponds to Mr. Biden’s request. The bill funds the government until November 17.
After days of turmoil in the House of Representatives, its Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, suddenly abandoned his right wing's demand for sharp cuts spending and relied on Democrats to pass the bill, risking his own job. The Senate followed by definitively adopting the bill.
The possible paralysis of the American government in five questions
“We are going to do our job,” Mr. McCarthy said before the vote. We are going to behave like adults. We will not shut down the government. »
Congress saw a turnaround after days of chaos in the House of Representatives pushed the government to the brink of a disruptive federal shutdown.
The result puts an end, for now, to the threat of closure. If no deal had been reached by Sunday, federal workers would have been furloughed, more than two million active-duty and reserve military personnel would have had to work without pay, and the programs and services on which Americans depend across the country would have begun to experience disruption.
“Americans can breathe a sigh of relief,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.
< p>The program funds the government at current 2023 levels until mid-November, raising another potential crisis if the government fails to secure more comprehensive funding by then. It was approved by the House of Representatives by a vote of 335 to 91, with the support of most Republicans and almost all Democrats. The Senate adopted it by 88 votes to 9.
But the loss of aid to Ukraine was devastating for lawmakers from both parties who had pledged support for President Volodymyr Zelensky after his recent visit to Washington. The Senate bill included US$6 billion for Ukraine, and both chambers came to a standstill on Saturday as lawmakers weighed their options.
“The American people deserve better,” said House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, who warned in a lengthy speech that “extreme” Republicans risked bringing about a shutdown.
For the House program to be approved, Republican McCarthy was forced to rely on Democrats, because the hard right of the House said she would oppose any short-term funding measures, depriving him of the votes needed for his narrow majority. This decision risks compromising his position, while voices are being raised to demand his ouster.
Having left his right wing behind, Mr. McCarthy is almost certain to face an impeachment motion, although it is not at all certain that there will be enough votes to overturn the President of the House. Most Republicans voted in favor of the proposal on Saturday, while 90 opposed it.
“If someone wants to oust me because I want to be the adult in the room, let them do it,” Mr. McCarthy said of the threat to oust him. “But I think this country is too important. »
The White House monitored developments at the Capitol and aides briefed the president, who was spending the weekend in Washington.
The Republican leader In the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who has championed aid to Ukraine despite resistance from his own ranks, is expected to continue seeking U.S. support for Kyiv in the fight against Russia.
“I have agreed to continue fighting for more economic and security assistance for Ukraine,” McConnell said before the vote.
The House's rapid pivot comes after the he failure on Friday of Mr. McCarthy's plan to pass a Republican-only bill with spending cuts of up to 30 percent for most government agencies, which the White House and Democrats rejected as being too extreme.
“Our options are dwindling by the minute,” said Republican Party leader Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.
The federal government was heading toward a shutdown that pose serious uncertainty for federal workers in U.S. states and the people who depend on them, whether they are military personnel, border control agents, clerical workers, scientists or others people.
Families who rely on the Head Start program for children, food benefits, and countless other programs large and small were going to face potential disruptions or outright closures. At airports, Transportation Security Administration officers and air traffic controllers are expected to work without pay, but travelers could face delays in updating their U.S. passports or other travel documents .