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How is Congress Supposed to Work, and What Went Wrong?

Deep political divisions between opposition party Republicans and President Barack Obama's Democratic Party allies are making it difficult to reach the compromises needed to get agreements on important legislation in Congress, such as the budget.

Failure to make a budget deal could leave Washington without the legal authority to spend money, forcing major parts of the government to shut down.

VOA's Senate correspondent Mike Bowman says the fight in Congress is over a temporary spending measure that would fund the U.S. government into December. Temporary funding is required due to the complete breakdown of the budgeting process.

The House of Representatives and the Senate are supposed to each pass yearlong budgets. The two houses are supposed to iron out differences and then pass a final bill that gets signed into law.

But the Republican-controlled House and the Democratic-controlled Senate have been unable to agree on a yearlong budget, so the only thing they can do to keep the government running is to extend current funding levels. That is known as a continuing resolution.

Today's spending fight is on the continuing resolution that would keep the government running past September 30.

House Republicans want to use the measure to defund President Obama's health care initiative, dubbed "Obamacare." Senate Democrats do not.

Unless one side gives up, or a compromise is reached, the federal government will lack permission to spend money beginning October 1.

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