US President Joe Biden signed an emergency law Thursday evening (local time) to prevent the US government from running out of money after midnight.
Earlier on Thursday, the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the emergency bill, also known as the ‘stopgap funding bill’.
Biden’s signing has averted the feared government shutdown until early December. The deal is a short-term solution, as it expires in early December. If there is no final agreement on the budget after that, there is still a threat of a shutdown.
Votes in the Senate and House took place on Thursday under great time pressure as the current fiscal year ends on Thursday. The Congress, the parliament of the United States, therefore had to re-authorize government spending. If that had not happened, the consequences would have been serious: salaries could no longer be paid, and some government services would have had to close.
Such political crises are more common in the United States, where conflicts between Democrats and Republicans can paralyze decision-making. The longest shutdown lasted 35 days and took place in 2018 and 2019 when President Donald Trump argued with Congress over money to build a wall on the border with Mexico. Then officials were forced to sell their properties online to pay their bills.
While a shutdown has been averted this time, Republicans and Democrats must also come to terms with another recurring headache: raising the debt ceiling. This relates to the maximum amount that the US state is allowed to borrow. If that doesn’t go up, the government is expected to run out of money by October 18.