The lower chamber of the US Congress approved
short-term budget legislation Wednesday that would postpone a
possible late March government shutdown, as President Barack Obama
continues to spar with lawmakers over spending cuts.
The measure would extend spending authority through the budget year ending September 30. It maintains across-the-board austerity measures that took effect last week but gives the Defence Department greater leeway in instituting cuts to its budget.
The bill passed the House of Representatives 267-151, with most Republicans in favour and most Democrats opposed. Because Congress did not pass a year-long budget, it must approve a series of short-term measures, and a government shutdown is possible if no agreement is reached.
The Senate, which is controlled by Obama's Democratic Party, must still approve the spending resolution, but Democrats who control the upper chamber are expected to oppose the House version and instead offer their own measure, which could restore some of last week's cuts, worth 85 billion dollars through September.
The so-called sequester remains a political hot button in Washington, as Obama seeks to get Republicans to replace the cuts with less severe measures. He is expected to dine with a group of Republican senators Wednesday night and to meet with lawmakers from both parties next week.
Obama said this week that the so-called sequester spending cuts were "an area of deep concern" and that his government will "manage it as best we can."
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