The last-minute approval of a project came just hours before the funds were due to expire at midnight on Wednesday, Sept. 30, and the federal government was left unfunded for the lack of a budget approval.
According to The Associated Press, lawmakers passed a provisional spending bill at the last minute Wednesday, to prevent the partial closure of the government until after the presidential election. The Senate voted 84-10 in a bipartisan manner to approve the resolution. Hours later, President Trump signed the bill into law to provide quick continuity.
The closure of the U.S. government was almost effective due to the lack of agreement between Democrats and Republicans to approve the new fiscal budget. Technically, after midnight on Sept. 30, there would be no approved federal budget, and if an emergency measure like yesterday’s was not taken, it would have meant that many government services would be canceled and their officials would not be paid.
The last time this happened was in 2013 and the previous time was in 1995. It has happened seven times in the history of the United States.
The legislation, called “continuing resolution,” keeps all federal agencies operating at current funding levels until Dec. 11, which allows the government to continue functioning until after the election. It is an election that could reshape Washington’s balance of power and give time to negotiate substantive issues that would allow for the approval of the formal budget for the new fiscal year.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, speaking with FOX Business on Wednesday, said the measure had broad bipartisan support and that the administration would have discussions about future funding after the November election.
The agreement had already been approved last week by the House, as a result of discussions between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and United States Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.
Among other technical issues, the bill includes $8 billion for nutritional assistance for unprotected families amid the CCP Virus pandemic.
It also provides special permission for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to access 2021 funds to combat the forest fires that are burning on the West Coast and address storm surge needs during the East Coast hurricane season.
In order for the government to continue funding after Dec. 11, lawmakers must pass another continuing resolution or agree on 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021.