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US Congress won't meet deadline for spending bill vote

The US Congress was poised Monday to extend by three days a deadline set during the country's autumn budget crisis to avoid another government shutdown. According to the chamber's Republican leadership, the House of Representatives is due to vote Tuesday on a mini spending bill that will give lawmakers until Saturday to vote on a much larger 2014 measure.

"This very short extension is needed to prevent any funding gaps as the agreement moves through the House and Senate next week," Senator Barbara Mikulski, chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Friday. In October, a bitter budget clash between Republicans and Democrats - who control the House and Senate respectively - triggered a 16-day government shutdown. A deal to end the crisis financed the government through this coming Wednesday, January 15.

Last month, Congress passed a compromise two-year budget accord, marking a truce in the fiscal wars that have plagued Washington. The deal laid out top-line spending limits for 2014 and 2015, while erasing some painful and automatic spending cuts that were due to kick in on January 1. It also gave lawmakers from both chambers until Wednesday to craft spending bills under the new limit - or risk another shutdown.

Delaying the deadline until Saturday buys lawmakers time to finalise their negotiations on the $1.1 trillion measure and debate it before voting on it. The text of the so-called omnibus spending bill, totalling several hundred pages, may be released later Monday, a spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers told AFP.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2014


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