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Biden Averts Government Shutdown with Temporary Spending Bill, Postponing Budget Battle to 2021

President Biden signed a temporary spending bill to avert a potential government shutdown, postponing the budget battle with congressional Republicans until next year.

The measure passed by wide bipartisan margins, ensuring the government remains open until after the holiday season, potentially giving lawmakers more time to sort out their differences over government spending levels for the current fiscal year. Biden signed the bill in San Francisco, where he is hosting the summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation economies.

News of the signing came late at night, with the president signing the bill at the Legion of Honor Museum, where he held a dinner for APEC members.

The spending package keeps government funding at current levels for roughly two more months while a long-term package is negotiated, splitting the deadlines for passing full-year appropriations bills into two dates: Jan. 19 for some federal agencies and Feb. 2 for others, creating two dates when there will be a risk of a partial government shutdown.

The two-step approach was championed by new House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Republican, and was not favored by many in the Senate, though all but one Democrat and 10 Republicans supported it because it ensured the government would not shut down for now.

Johnson has vowed that he will not support any further stopgap funding measures, known as continuing resolutions, and portrayed the temporary funding bill as setting the ground for a spending “fight” with the Senate next year.

The spending bill does not include the White House’s nearly $106 billion request for wartime aid for Israel and Ukraine, nor does it provide humanitarian funding for Palestinians and other supplemental requests, including money for border security. Lawmakers are likely to turn their attention more fully to that request after the Thanksgiving holiday in hopes of negotiating a deal.

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