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US Congress passes 11th-hour ‘temporary’ bill to avert govt. shutdown as deadline looms

The US Capitol, which houses Congress, is seen in the background following the passage of a 45-day continuing resolution at the end of the day on Capitol Hill in Washington, the United States, on September 30, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

With only hours left to avoid the fourth partial shutdown of the United States' government in a decade, Congress has passed a temporary measure to keep the government funded for another 45 days.

The Democratic-majority Senate voted 88-9 in a late Saturday session to pass the measure, sending it to President Joe Biden to be signed into law before the 12:01 a.m. ET (0401 GMT) deadline for the government shutdown.

Congress’ approval came a few hours after the House of Representatives passed the measure 335-91 after Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy broke ranks with those party members who insisted that any bill had to pass the chamber with only Republican votes.

A total of 209 Democrats supported the bill, which was far more than the 126 Republicans who did so, prompting Democrats to describe the result as a win.

"Extreme MAGA Republicans have lost...," top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries said. He was citing the acronym for former President Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" motto that has many Republican buyers across the two chambers of the US Congress.

The so-called stopgap bill is slated to keep the government open until the middle of November.

The standoff over the budget had raised worries on Wall Street, with the Moody's ratings agency warning it could damage US creditworthiness.

A shutdown could also see millions of federal employees and military personnel sent home or required to work without pay.

Biden had earlier warned that a shutdown could take a heavy toll on American troops, saying "We can’t be playing politics while our troops stand in the breach. It’s an absolute dereliction of duty."

The temporary measure features a freeze on the government's multi-billion-dollar flow of military assistance towards Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. This is while arming and funding what many observers consider as the US' proxy war against Russia has been a key policy plank for Biden’s administration.

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