Saturday, October 01, 2005

Bush signs stopgap bill to fund government


Bush signs stopgap bill to fund government

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Friday quickly signed into law a measure to keep funds flowing to federal agencies through November 18, averting any chance of a government-wide shutdown this weekend.

The Senate sent the president the bill earlier in the day and the House of Representatives passed identical legislation on Thursday.

Without the stopgap spending bill, most government agencies would not have money to continue operating after midnight, the end of the 2005 fiscal year.

Before approving the measure, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate skirmished over the level of funding during the next seven weeks for an array of programs to help the poor and elderly.

By a 53-39 vote, Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat, failed to restore money cut by the House for those programs, including one that would help poor people buy heating fuel this winter.

Sen. Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, will try to win passage of Harkin's amendment next week by attaching it to an unrelated bill to fund the U.S. military in fiscal 2006.

During the seven-week period covered by the stopgap funding bill, the House and Senate will try to finish several spending bills to fund government agencies during the fiscal year that starts on Saturday.