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US House adopts bill to avoid shutdown

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Sep 23, 2020 - 07:16 AM

WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives adopted a budget bill Tuesday to avoid an imminent government shutdown and extend funding through early December, after Democrats reached a deal with the White House and Republicans.

The bipartisan text would still need the Senate’s backing and President Donald Trump’s signature before it could enter into force.

“We have reached an agreement with Republicans,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement following a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to prevent large portions of the government from shutting down after September 30.

The measure would “add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families,” Pelosi said.

The text extends a program by which children receive free or reduced-price meals in order “to help the millions of families struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic,” Pelosi said.

Earlier in the day the United States surpassed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans had rejected an initial proposal even before a vote, saying that the bill ignored the needs of US farmers, with  moderate Democrats also joining the outcry.

The matter is crucial to many of the lawmakers’ constituents, making it a key election-year issue as many members of Congress court voters ahead of November 3.

The bipartisan deal includes funding for farmers, but with increased accountability to prevent “funds for farmers from being misused,” Pelosi said.

Congress, which is deeply divided along party lines, would not likely have been able to reach a broader agreement on a new 2021 budget before the end of the fiscal year, which falls on September 30 in the United States.

The short-term bill extends funding through December 11.

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