U.S. Congress approves stopgap funding bill ahead of gov't shutdown deadline

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a stopgap funding bill to fund the government through mid-December, following a Senate passage on Thursday.

The House cleared the bill on a 230-201 vote, sending it to President Joe Biden for his signature. The Senate voted 72-25.

The so-called continuing resolution would prevent a partial government shutdown after the current fiscal year expires Friday night.

"It's become routine for Congress to wait until the very last minute before an urgent deadline to spring into action," Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a budget watchdog group, said in a statement.

This will make time number eight out of the last 10 years in which lawmakers have waited until "the very last week" of the fiscal year to pass a stopgap measure to avoid a full or partial government shutdown, the group noted.

"When lawmakers don't bother to set spending priorities, it shows how truly broken the federal budget process is," the group said. "While it seems both chambers can't agree on much these days, they should at least be able to agree on this: we should not run our country without a budget."

A continuing resolution temporarily funds the government in the absence of full appropriations bills, often by continuing funding levels from the prior year. But the newly approved stopgap measure included several provisions beyond funding the federal government's current operations, including 12 billion U.S. dollars in aid to Ukraine.

The legislation also provides billions of dollars in disaster aid to support communities that are recovering from extreme weather. Some 20 million dollars will be used to fix the water infrastructure in Jackson, Mississippi, where heavy rainstorms led pumps at the main water treatment plant to fail last month, leaving 150,000 people without safe drinking water.

The stopgap bill had previously been held up by disagreements over a proposal from centrist Democrat Joe Manchin, a senator from West Virginia, regarding federal permitting process for major energy projects. In the face of bipartisan opposition, Manchin had to drop the measure.

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