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The Senate approves the budget agreement and avoids paralysis

The Senate approves the budget agreement and avoids paralysis

(Washington) US Senators ratified a budget agreement on Friday evening, thus avoiding partial paralysis of the federal administration and providing the opportunity to take a step towards finalizing the 2024 budget after months of divisions.

The $467.5 billion package was approved by both parties, although many Republicans disagreed over some of the expenditures.

This green light, which includes half of the 12 laws scheduled for adoption in 2024, allows a whole range of agencies and ministries to continue working, such as agriculture, trade, justice, science, environment, housing and transportation, until the end of the year. The end of the fiscal year is September 30.

Without this last-minute agreement, these departments could have been closed in what the United States calls a “shutdown.”

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer praised the “big step” toward passing this year’s full budget.

“For those who fear divided governance means doing nothing at all, this bipartisan package says otherwise: It helps parents, veterans, firefighters, farmers, school lunches and more,” he added.

The bill was already approved by the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the most important step because far-right Republican elected officials, close to Donald Trump, have so far succeeded in obstructing the process.

The other half

Conservatives deemed some of the spending excessive, among other things, citing as examples $1 million for the Center for Environmental Justice in New York, $4 million for a waterfront park in New Jersey, and $3.5 million for a Thanksgiving parade in Michigan.

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“American taxpayers should not be used as a political piggy bank,” Florida Republican Senator Rick Scott said.

The package also includes budget cuts of up to 10% for some federal agencies that are in Republicans' crosshairs, such as the FBI or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson announced that the budget “imposes significant cuts” to these agencies “that have threatened our freedoms and our economy under the Biden administration.”

The other half of the budget, which includes sensitive topics, such as the military or border security, has been postponed in a second envelope that must reach President Joe Biden's desk by March 22.

So far, it has been possible to avoid budget paralysis, but every time at the last minute. To compensate for not reaching an agreement on the annual budget, Congress had to work through a series of mini-acts to extend the budget by a few days, weeks, or months.