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US Congress Passes $1.1 Trillion Budget for 2015

  • VOA News

The U.S. Congress has given its final approval for a massive $1.1 trillion government spending plan for most of 2015, ending a threat that the federal government could shut down again if the legislation was not passed.

The measure, approved late Saturday in the Senate by 56-40 vote after a vote Thursday by the House of Representatives, funds the government through the current budget year ending next September. The bill now heads to the White House where President Barack Obama has said he will sign it into law.

The Senate debate was marked by political maneuvering. Senator Ted Cruz, a freshman Republican from Texas with presidential aspirations, had demanded a vote on a proposal to cut funds from the bill that could be used for Mr. Obama's executive order easing immigration restrictions.

However, Cruz's action enabled Senate majority leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, to push through numerous nominees of Mr. Obama for administration jobs and appointees for judicial positions who would have had a much more difficult time winning approval in January when Republicans take control of the Senate.

While the bill provides funding for nearly the entire government through September, it only funds the Department of Homeland Security until February 27. Republicans intend to try then to force the president to roll back his immigration policy that removes the threat of deportation from millions of immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

But with the funding approval, the U.S. averted another government shutdown like the one that occurred a year ago.

President Obama said Friday that the funding bill includes provisions he does not like, but that there are other parts that ensure progress would continue on health insurance, climate change, early childhood education and job growth.

Some Senate Democrats opposed major provisions, including one to roll back a prohibition in the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law on banks engaging in certain types of derivatives trading blamed for the 2008 financial crisis.

Saturday's Senate session came one day after the chamber passed a $585 billion defense spending bill for 2015.

Senators from both parties supported that measure, which includes nearly $64 billion for overseas operations, including in Afghanistan and Iraq. It also authorizes spending for the fight against Islamic State militants, including the continued training and equipping of moderate Syrian rebels.

Some information for this report came from Reuters, AP and AFP.

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