UPDATE – Trump signs bill to avoid US government shutdown


By Ovunc Kutlu

ANKARA (AA) – US President Donald Trump early Thursday signed a stopgap spending bill to avoid a government shutdown and keep it running into mid-December, through the hotly contested Nov. 3 elections and beyond.

The bill, which passed the US Senate by an 84-10 vote, will keep government agencies funded at 2020 fiscal year levels through Dec. 11. The House of Representatives approved the bill last week.

Trump technically missed the midnight deadline to sign the bill, but the Office of Management and Budget never ordered agencies to stop their operations, although funding for agencies had temporarily lapsed.

The legislation is meant to ensure the US government will not go through a shutdown during the COVID-19 pandemic, at least in the short term, and will get through the 2020 presidential election on Nov. 3 as planned.

However, lawmakers must agree on a new spending bill before Dec. 11 to keep agencies running through September 2021.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi later said the bill includes $8 billion in nutrition assistance for children and families, and renews a pandemic food aid program for a full year.

The 2021 federal fiscal year for the US government budget runs between Oct. 1, 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021.

After long periods without shutdowns or threats of one, since the 1990s the US has faced a number of government shutdowns, including a three-week 1995-1996 shutdown during the Bill Clinton administration, and a 16-day shutdown in 2013 during the Barack Obama administration caused by a dispute over the Affordable Care Act.

The longest shutdown in US history occurred during the Donald Trump administration in 2018-2019 for 35 days, caused by a dispute over funding the US-Mexico border wall.

Once a routine government function, extending government funding has become a regular fixture of Washington gamesmanship in the more partisan political era since the 1990s.