US Government shutdown: House of Representatives passes budget bill in bid to avoid another closure


The House of Representatives passed a short-term budget bill, moving Congress closer to averting another government shutdown.

With a Thursday deadline drawing closer, the vote kicks action over to the Senate. The House will need to vote again if the Senate makes anticipated changes.

While the House bill would fund the military for a full year, it would keep the government open only through late March and eschews a larger policy debate over immigration — the latest in a series of budgetary stopgap measures in recent months.

In January the government shut down for three days as Democrats blocked a funding deal, seeking to force an immigration compromise. In the end they extracted only a promise from Republicans to continue debating.

Congress has passed a series of short-term spending measures as legislators and Donald Trump seek to craft an immigration deal that would address border security, avenues to legal immigration and a lapsed initiative offering legal status to young unauthorised immigrants.

Senators seeking to forge a longer-term deal have expressed hopefulness they’re getting closer, with Republican leader Mitch McConnell saying he was “very optimistic” and top Democrat saying they were “closer to an agreement than we have ever been” after a meeting.

But Mr Trump has cast doubt on that, once again embraced the use of a government shutdown as a bargaining tool.

In a meeting with law enforcement about the transnational gang MS-13 he advocated shuttering the government if immigration rules are not tightened.

“If we don’t change it, let’s have a shutdown,” Mr Trump said. “We’ll do a shutdown. And it’s worth it for our country. I’d love to see a shutdown if we don’t get this stuff taken care of”.