Congress passes budget bill to avert government shutdown

The US Capitol building The budget has been the recent focus of Congressional gridlock

Congress has comfortably passed a large spending bill to keep the US government running until the end of September and avert a temporary shutdown.

President Barack Obama must now sign the bill, which was passed by a bipartisan vote of 318-109.

It retains $85bn (£56bn) in spending cuts this year that took effect on 1 March, but gives cabinet agencies new flexibility in implementing them.

The bill also keeps in place a pay freeze for federal employees.

Approved by the Senate on Wednesday, the legislation provides an extra $87bn to the Pentagon to pay for overseas operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ryan plan approved

However, the bill does not signal an end to the fiscal warfare between Republicans and Democrats that has gridlocked Washington DC for so long.

Congress will next have to agree on a budget for the following fiscal year, which begins on 1 October.

Much of the disagreement has revolved around how best to reduce the government's annual budget deficit, which has hovered at around $1tn, without harming the economy.

On Thursday, Republicans in the House backed a budget plan by Representative Paul Ryan.

That bill, and a rival proposal being debated in the Democratic-controlled Senate, are widely viewed as political posturing by each party as they outline their federal spending priorities for future fiscal fights.

The Ryan blueprint, passed by 221-207 without the support of single Democratic lawmaker, would cut $5tn from the budget over a decade.

It proposes an overhaul of the government healthcare programme, Medicare, that would affect those aged 54 and under.

It also incorporates a $600bn tax raise already approved by Congress in a New Year deal.

Mr Ryan's plan has been criticised by Democrats who disagree with a strategy that would balance the budget without further raising revenue. And late on Thursday, the Democratic-led Senate soundly rejected it on a 40-59 vote.

In the Senate, Democrats are putting forward a plan that would raise $1tn in new revenue to stabilise the national debt, but would not fully balance the budget.

More on This Story

US Economy

From other news sites

* May require registration or subscription

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • SkatesCity-dweller's dream

    These motorised roller skates allow you to cruise to work - without breaking a sweat

Programmes

  • A digger operated via an Oculus Rift and a controllerClick Watch

    Why controlling a heavy digger with a virtual reality helmet might improve safety

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.