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US Congress Passes Spending Bill to Avoid Potential Shutdown

  • VOA News

FILE - U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C.

FILE - U.S. Capitol dome in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Congress passed a spending bill Wednesday that will keep the government operating for another few months and provide $1.1 billion for efforts to combat the Zika virus.

The measure passed by a margin of 342-85 in the House and 72-26 in the Senate.

Without the extension, many government agencies would have run out of money when the federal fiscal year ends at midnight Friday. The new spending bill runs through December 9.

The breakthrough came after top congressional leaders resolved a stalemate over aid to Flint, Michigan, to help the city address its water crisis. Democratic advocates for Flint are now satisfied with Republican assurances that money for Flint will be finalized after the country's November elections.

The bill also includes $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and other states.

Democrats in the Senate and House had vowed to oppose the bill until Republicans agreed to an aid package for Flint, a city of more than 100,000 people that has had lead-tainted drinking water for more than two years.

The deal defuses a lengthy, frustrating battle over Zika spending. Democrats claimed a partial victory on Flint while the GOP-dominated Louisiana delegation won a downpayment on Obama's $2.6 billion request for their state.