US & Canada

US Congress passed deal to avert shutdown and begin campaign

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the Democratic House caucus on the steps of the US Capitol on 21 September 2012.
Image caption Bickering between the two parties has often brought the government close to a shutdown

Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress have agreed a compromise spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.

The 62-30 vote averts the possibility of US federal agencies shutting down because of a lack of guaranteed funding on 1 October.

The package must now be signed by President Barack Obama.

Saturday's vote allowed lawmakers to return to their home states to campaign for the 6 November election.

The $524bn package (£323bn) slightly raises the amount of money which funds government agencies - from defence to national parks.

The stop-gap measure was needed amid disagreements between Democrats and Republicans - and it ensures funding until March next year.

"It is an inefficient way to fund the federal government but it is better than shutting it down next week," said Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye.

Last year, a similar impasse was averted a similar threat for the third time in a year.

The issue became more polarised in the run-up to the presidential elections pitting Mr Obama - seeking a second term - against former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.