US President signs budget bill into law to prevent government shutdown
US President Barack Obama has inked a two-party federal budget bill, preventing the risk of a government shutdown for two years in the country.
The legislation was passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives after a prolonged stand-off between the Democrats and the Republicans. The bill had been drafted by a cross-party budget panel set up after October’s 16-day government shutdown.
The Defence Bill, among others, provides $527 billion in base defence spending and $80 billion for the war in Afghanistan, in addition to a crackdown on assault* in military and relaxes restrictions on transferring detainees from the federal prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Why did the US government shutdown happen?
The US Congress failed to pass the government budget due to disagreement between the Republicans, who have majority in the lower house – the House of Representatives – and the Democrats, who control the upper house, the Senate.
Since President Barack Obama’s election, the parties have never come to a resolution on a US budget that extends further than a few months. They’ve just negotiated around the margins and come up with short-term fixes.
Now, the Republicans are using budget deadlines to gain political leverage over contentious policies.
This time the issue was Mr. Obama’s healthcare reform programme- the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which continues to be very controversial for a range of reasons. The Republican-controlled House of Representatives though approved budgets but eliminated funding of this programme or wanted it delayed by one year. The Senate rejected these demands. It led to a deadlock situation and no budget bill could be agreed by both houses, resulting into the shut down.