US budget wars thaw as House averts government shutdown

City A.M. Reporter
US HOUSE of Representatives Republicans yesterday approved a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, in a further easing of the partisan budget wars that have consumed Washington for months.

The Republican-controlled House voted 318-109 to approve legislation that keeps government agencies and programmes funded through to the end of the fiscal year on 30 September, sending the measure to President Barack Obama to be signed into law.

Current spending authority was to expire on 27 March, but Republicans chose not to use the threat of federal agencies running out of money and shutting down as leverage to demand deep spending cuts.

Instead, they want to wage a campaign for deficit reduction centred on proposals from House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin. Shortly before approving the spending bill, the House backed a budget blueprint offered by Ryan to eliminate US deficits within 10 years through deep cuts in healthcare and other social programs.

“We proved that when we set our mind to it, we can get complicated, hard things done,” House appropriations committee chairman Harold Rogers said.

He called the vote a “good start” before lawmakers get down to tackling separate budget proposals in the coming days.