News / Economy

Congress Funds US Government Through September

FILE - U.S. Capitol building in Washington at dusk.
FILE - U.S. Capitol building in Washington at dusk.
Michael Bowman
A politically divided U.S. Congress has funded the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, avoiding another potential government shutdown and restoring some sense of budgetary normalcy to Washington. The Senate passed the so-called “omnibus” spending bill 72 to 26, after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the measure Wednesday.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill will fund the U.S. government through September. It eases automatic, across-the-board spending cuts for domestic and defense programs, raises the pay of civilian federal workers for the first time in four years, and protects the benefits of military veterans.

Most lawmakers cheered what the bill represents: a reprieve from partisan gridlock and a demonstration that Congress can still function and fulfill its duties. Democrat Barbara Mikulski heads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

“In today’s era of shutdowns, slowdowns, slam-down [bare-knuckle] politics, we worked together, setting aside partisan differences. This is what the American people deserve," she said.

The committee’s top Republican, Senator Richard Shelby, said the bill is the product of compromise and bipartisanship.

“On balance, I believe it represents a middle ground on which we can all comfortably stand. It is certainly far better than the alternative, which would be another confrontation, another government shutdown, and another giant step further away from establishing some sense of regular [legislative] order," he said.

To be sure, many Democrats wanted more funds for domestic priorities than the bill contains. Similarly, the legislation provides almost none of the long-term cost saving reforms sought by Republicans. While easing some spending cuts, the bill retains much of the overall frugality that has helped cut the U.S. federal deficit in half over the last two years.

That fact did not satisfy budget hawks like Republican Senator Tom Coburn, who blasted the measure as a betrayal of Congress’ previous commitments to slash spending.

“Truth in budgeting and spending matters. At least, if we are going to do this, let us own up to what we are doing. Let us not be dishonest with the American people about the [budget] numbers," he said.

Polls show most Americans blamed Republicans for last year’s partial government shutdown, and many Republican lawmakers openly admitted they had no desire for a repeat this year. In November, all House seats and one-third of the Senate will be up for election. Once President Barack Obama signs the spending bill into law, it will allow lawmakers to campaign free of the burdens of a partisan budget war - at least through September.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.8957
JPY
USD
120.93
GBP
USD
0.6393
CAD
USD
1.2199
INR
USD
63.470

Rates may not be current.