Biden welcomes deal to avert partial US government shutdown

AFP , Tuesday 19 Mar 2024

US President Joe Biden voiced support Tuesday for a deal struck by leaders in Congress to finalize the 2024 federal budget and avoid a damaging election-year partial shutdown ahead of Friday's deadline.

File photo: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on lowering prices for American families during an event at the YMCA Allard Center, Monday, March 11, 2024, in Goffstown, New Hampshire, US. AP


Negotiators said late Monday they had resolved a fight over spending on immigration controls at the US-Mexico border that had bogged down the talks for days -- putting the deal on a glide path to Biden's desk in the coming days.

"The House and Senate are now working to finalize a package that can quickly be brought to the floor, and I will sign it immediately," the Democrat said in a statement.

Lawmakers passed bills covering around one-third of the budget earlier this month.

But funding runs out at midnight on Friday night for the remaining six bills, covering the departments of state, defense, treasury, homeland security, labor and health, as well as Congress.

Five of the bills were straightforward, but disputes over the contentious funding of homeland security were threatening to force a shutdown of vast parts of the federal government.

Republican presidential election candidate Donald Trump pressured lawmakers earlier this year to kill a bipartisan border security bill, leaving homeland security funding as the alternative vehicle for immigration policy changes.

Republicans wanted more dollars for border patrol officers, while Democrats were holding out for more funding for pay equity for airport security staff.

The deal effectively locks in Biden administration border policies for another six months and will not be supported by conservatives, but a robust cross-party coalition is expected to send the bill over the finish line.

The timing could be tight, as House Republican leadership has promised to give rank-and-file members 72 hours to review the package before a floor vote.

The text, representing roughly $1 trillion in spending, is expected to be released later Tuesday or Wednesday, teeing off a House vote on Friday or Saturday.

That would mean a trivial funding gap of only a few hours -- and no partial shutdown -- as long as all 100 senators agree to speed up procedural votes to send the deal to Biden's desk on the same day.

The budget for 2024 should have been completed nearly six months ago and there has not been a government shutdown this late in the fiscal year since it was redesigned from October to October in 1976.

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