WASHINGTON – Congress on Thursday cleared for President Bush must-pass bills to prevent a government shutdown and extend the Treasury Department’s ability to finance the budget deficit.
The stopgap spending bill, which the Senate approved 94-1, was needed because Congress has not sent Bush a single spending bill. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., cast the only no vote, saying the bill gave Bush a “blank check” to continue the war in Iraq.
The debt limit increase measure passed by a 53-42 vote and comes as the government continues to leak red ink.
The bills will be shipped to the White House for Bush to sign by an Oct. 1 deadline. That’s when the new fiscal year starts and, coincidentally, when the government will hit its borrowing ceiling of $8.965 trillion. The new debt limit would be $9.815 trillion.
The stopgap spending bill would keep all 15 Cabinet departments running at current levels through mid-November, extend financing for a popular health insurance program covering children from low-income families, and dip deeply into a $70 billion fund for Pentagon operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Passage of the stopgap funding bill likely permits Democrats to put off until early next year a vote on Bush’s $189 billion request for Pentagon operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That’s what Democratic leaders are signaling they will do.
sponsored According to two 2015 surveys, 62 percent of Americans do not have enough savings to handle an unexpected emergency, much less any long-term plans.