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News > World

US Congress Narrowly Escapes Government Shutdown... For Now

  • U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (R) attends a news conference on President Trump's first 100 days on Capitol Hill, next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in Washington, U.S April 28, 2017.

    U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) (R) attends a news conference on President Trump's first 100 days on Capitol Hill, next to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in Washington, U.S April 28, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 December 2017
Opinion

The last government shutdown that was ignited for political reasons cost the U.S. a whopping US$24 billion during its 16 day span.

Facing an imminent government shutdown, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives by passing a two week stopgap spending bill that will keep the U.S. government afloat until Dec. 22.

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The temporary spending bill, which passed 81 to 14, will provide necessary funds to the Department of Defense, the Internal Revenue Service, and states that would not be able to fund children’s health insurance programs without federal assistance.

"The Senate just passed a 2-week funding bill that will maintain our military and provide states with the certainty to continue children’s health insurance program while a longer bipartisan agreement is finalized," Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement.

The House of Representatives passed its own version of the spending bill hours before the Senate held its vote. This stopgap bill was more hotly contested with a 235 to 193 vote.

Seeking to pass key legislation before the holidays, U.S. President Donald Trump and top congressional leaders met to discuss pertinent issues such as the federal budget, emergency aid to states and territories that were hit by natural disasters, immigration, and the previously mentioned children’s health insurance programs.

House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi, met with Trump to discuss major issues of agreement that top the agenda. These issues, which Trump agreed were important to both parties, included legislation to address the opioid crisis, funding for veterans programs, and the diminishing child health insurance programs.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck wrote on Twitter that negotiations with his Senate counterparts were ongoing in addressing pertinent and bipartisan needs.

 

The House side, more polarized, will be more difficult as Pelosi has dug in her heels and insisted that any solution must include aid for “Dreamer” immigrants, immigrants who were brought to the United States as young children. The administration of former president Barack Obama granted protections to these immigrants, however the Trump administration has reversed these and the Dreamers now face deportation.

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“We will not leave here,” Pelosi said to reporters, insisting that concessions must be granted to the immigrants who are popularly supported by voters and lawmakers.

Lawmakers from both sides of the isle have indicated that they do not wish to see a government shutdown, though President Trump said that it is possible.

In 2013, the U.S. government was shut down for 16 days after Republican lawmakers refused to accept a budget proposal that would include the continuation of the Affordable Care Act, referred to as “Obamacare.”

The shutdown left nearly 800,000 federal employees without pay and cost the U.S. government US$1.5 billion per day adding to a total of US$24 billion.

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