US & Canada

US Senate passes three-week government budget bill

President Barack Obama, shown on Thursday
Image caption Mr Obama has said relying on temporary budget measures hinders the economy

The US Senate has passed a fresh stop-gap bill that will fund the US government for three more weeks, and avoid a shut-down while lawmakers work out a deal on the main federal budget.

The bill slashes $6bn (£3.71bn) from government spending in that period.

The US government would have run out of money on Friday had it not passed.

Legislators have been unable to agree to a long-term budget, with Democrats resisting demands from many Republicans for even deeper budget cuts.

President Barack Obama has said he will sign the bill into law, but he has implored congressional negotiators to agree to a budget to fund the government the the end of the fiscal year on 30 September.

Following that, Congress will have to approve a budget funding the next fiscal year.

The temporary budget measure, called a continuing resolution, was necessary because Democrats did not pass a budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year before losing control of the House of Representatives in the November elections.

Republicans maintain they were elected with a mandate to slash government spending dramatically and have proposed cutting as much as $100bn in spending through to the end of the fiscal year.

Democrats contend a reduction of that size would cripple the nascent economic recovery and hinder America's future growth.

Without the bill that passed on Thursday on a vote of 87-13, the US government would have shut down most operations on Friday, delaying crucial services from passport application processing to distribution of benefits cheques.

The $6bn in cuts comes on top of $4bn in the continuing resolution bill passed about two weeks ago.

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