US Congress Approves Temporary Spending Measure

Posted November 17th, 2011 at 9:00 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The U.S. Congress has approved a stopgap measure that funds the federal government through December 16.

By a vote of 298 to 121, lawmakers in the House of Representatives Thursday passed the bill that allows the government to keep operating when current funding levels expire Friday. The Senate then approved the measure by a 70 to 30 margin. The bill now goes to U.S. President Barack Obama for his signature. The current fiscal year began October 1.

The legislative action comes as a 12-member, bipartisan committee tries to come up with a plan aimed at cutting the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade. The committee of six Democrats and six Republicans is facing a deadline of November 23 to do so. Failure to act would trigger automatic spending cuts to defense and domestic programs beginning in 2013.

On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House and Senate urged the special committee to “go big” and aim for around $4 trillion in savings.

Earlier this week, Republican leaders in Congress said they are now willing to break a no-tax pledge as part of a comprehensive deal to reduce the massive federal deficit. The lawmakers said they have submitted to the committee a proposal that would include new tax revenue, combined with deep cuts to domestic programs championed by Democrats. Republicans have been reluctant to support tax increases, while Democrats have opposed deep cuts to health care and retirement programs.

President Obama, a Democrat, has signaled a willingness to restructure costly programs that provide income and health care to retirees. Mr. Obama has said he hopes the leaders of the committee will do what is necessary in the coming days to agree on a plan.