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WASHINGTON: After days of delay, US congressional leaders unveiled a $1.2 trillion bipartisan spending measure for defense, homeland security and other programs early on Thursday, giving lawmakers less than two days to avert a partial government shutdown.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives will vote on the sprawling package on Friday, leaving the Democratic-majority Senate only hours to pass the package of six bills that covers about two-thirds of the $1.66 trillion in discretionary government spending for the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wasted no time in urging his fellow senators to act quickly once the legislation arrives from the House.

Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, Congress has had to pass four temporary funding bills to avert government shutdowns because of unresolved battles over spending priorities and the size of annual appropriations.

“Once the House acts the Senate will need bipartisan cooperation to pass it before Friday’s deadline and avoid a shutdown,” Schumer said in a Senate speech.

The Congressional Budget Office warned that US deficits and debt will grow considerably over the next 30 years, forecasting that the nation’s $34.5 trillion national debt, which currently represents about 99% of GDP, could grow and rise to 166% of GDP by 2054.

Ratings agencies have also warned that Congress’s repeated brinkmanship could hurt the US government’s creditworthiness.

RISK REMAINS

The compressed schedule raised the risk of at least a brief partial shutdown after a Friday midnight deadline. Any one senator can erect procedural hurdles to slow final passage of the 1,012-page bill.

“There will be no time to read the text, to vet it with our staffs and our constituents, to debate the bill and offer amendments to improve the bill,” said conservative Republican Senator Mike Lee, as he criticized the wide-ranging bill.

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