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US lawmakers pass short-term deal to avoid government shutdown

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The House of Representatives on Saturday passed a last-minute compromise funding measure with bipartisan support, bringing Washington one step closer to averting a damaging shutdown of the US government.

The House voted 335-91 on a deal that would keep the government funded at current levels for another 45 days, postponing the risk of a shutdown until mid-November.

All but one Democratic House member joined with the majority of Republicans in supporting the measure, while 90 Republicans broke with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy in opposing the deal.

The bill now heads to the Senate, which Democrats control by a razor-thin margin. The Senate has until midnight on Saturday to approve the agreement and avert a shutdown.

But it remains unclear whether the bill will be approved by the upper chamber, where a similar stop-gap proposal had included some $6bn in additional US aid for Ukraine. The measure passed by the House excludes funding for Ukraine.

While many House Republicans have been wary of providing more support for Kyiv, influential Senate Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, have been resolute about the need to back Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Saturday’s vote in the House came after days of failed attempts at compromise that cast doubt on McCarthy’s leadership.

A shutdown appeared all but certain late on Friday after 21 Republican rebels voted against a different stop-gap funding measure proposed by McCarthy. House Democrats also voted against the measure because it included steep budget cuts.

But on Saturday McCarthy came back with the new offer to continue funding the government at current levels for another 45 days.

Democrats have placed the blame for the shutdown drama on Republicans, given a small but powerful minority of hardliners in the House have hindered several proposed compromise deals in recent days.

Hakeem Jeffries, the top House Democrat, lambasted “extreme” Republicans for “marching us to a dangerous government shutdown” as he spoke at length on the House floor ahead of Saturday’s vote.

“We’re supposed to believe that the chaos, the dysfunction, the extremism is largely a result of the narrow niche of the Republican majority,” he said. “We had the same exact majority — extremely narrow — on the other side of the aisle and instead of chaos, dysfunction and extremism, we got things done for the American people.”

The White House has also blamed House Republicans for the dysfunction, insisting Congress bears responsibility for funding the federal government.

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