Biden signs stopgap funding bill to avert government shutdown

President Joe Biden has now signed the stopgap funding bill, averting a government shutdown and pushing the

In a statement, the White House confirmed that the president signed the bill on Thursday, during this week’s visit to San Francisco to host the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and for a high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

HR 6363, or the “Further Continuing Appropriations and Other Extensions Act, 2024” – pushed by newly-elected House Speaker Mike Johnson – will now keep the government and federal agencies open through to 19 January 2024 for continuing projects and activities funded in four appropriations bills.

Other government entities will be funded up to 2 February.

A US official flew the bill from Washington DC for Mr Biden to sign while hosting an APEC Summit dinner at the Legion of Honor Museum on Thursday night, The Associated Press reported.

His signature came just hours before the US government was set to run out of funds on Friday night.

It came after the House and the Senate both passed the stopgap bill this week, bringing some semblance of calm to a chaotic period in Congress – while also teeing up major fights about spending bills in the coming year.

On Wednesday, the US Senate overwhelmingly passed the stopgap spending bill, with all but one Democrat supporting the bill while 10 Republicans opposed it. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday evening.

“Hopefully it’s a good sign, but keep in mind, we’ve got two deadlines now that we have to deal with,” Sen Thom Tillis (R-NC) told The Independent after the Senate vote.

Sen Jon Tester (D-MT), the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee who is running for re-election next year, said he was happy Congress avoided a government shutdown.

“That’s a good news,” he told The Independent. “Bad news is we should have got this work done the end of September.”

House Republicans hope to use that approach to avert passing an “omnibus” spending bill wherein all 12 major spending bills are combined into one, which they believe prevents spending cuts.

But senators on both sides of the aisle expressed scepticism that spending bills could actually pass and the upcoming the spending fights.

“I’m disappointed that after we’d pass the first three-bill package, we didn’t immediately go into the next package,” Sen Susan Collins (R-ME), the top Republican on the Senate Approriations Committee, told The Independent. “I think had what you believe would have finished that package at the end of last week and been on the next package.”

Sen Joe Manchin (D-WV), who last week announced his retirement from the Senate, told The Independent that he was worried about the inability to pass future spending bills.

“I sure hope so, but it doesn’t look good,” he said.

Sen Raphael Warnock (D-GA) also told The Independent that he did not like the process.

“I wish we weren’t here,” he said. “I wish that Congress could find a way to do his job. I think this politics of chaos and brinksmanship is bad for the American economy overall.”

Mr Warnock pointed to the fact that Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating.

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