The United States’s House of Representatives has passed a temporary spending bill to avert a government shutdown that could have left as many as 1.5 million public workers without pay.
The legislation, which would extend government funding until mid-January, now heads to the Senate, where Democrats have a slim majority and Republicans have also voiced support.
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To prevent a shutdown, the measure must be signed by President Joe Biden before current funding for federal agencies expires at midnight on Friday.
The 336-95 vote was a victory for new House Speaker Mike Johnson, who was forced to reach across the aisle to Democrats when hard-right conservatives revolted against his plan.
“Making sure that government stays in operation is a matter of conscience for all of us. We owe that to the American people,” Johnson said earlier on Tuesday at a news conference.
Johnson was elected as speaker less than three weeks ago, following weeks of tumult that left the chamber without a leader, even as the war in Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war spurred calls for quick congressional action.
With a slim 221-213 majority, he can afford to lose no more than three Republican votes on legislation that Democrats oppose.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement after the vote that he was pleased the bill passed “with a strong bipartisan vote,” adding that he would work with his Senate Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, to pass it “as soon as possible”.
The stopgap spending bill would extend government funding at current levels into early 2024 in a two-part process that temporarily funds some federal agencies to January 19 and others to February 2, giving lawmakers more time to craft the detailed spending bills that cover everything from the military to scientific research.
The bill passed with 209 Democratic and 127 Republican votes, while 93 Republicans and two Democrats voted against it.
Some hardline Republicans said they were frustrated that the bill did not include the steep spending cuts and border security measures they sought.
Democrats, meanwhile, pressed for their own add-ons – including aid for Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan – but each now looks set to be dealt with separately, with a $61bn request from the White House for Kyiv looking particularly precarious amid conservative opposition.
Johnson’s predecessor as speaker, Kevin McCarthy, was removed by a handful of hardline Republicans after a similar vote in September to avert a shutdown that also relied on Democratic votes.