Source AP ©

US government to run until mid-November

The House of Representatives tries to keep the U.S. government running until mid-November.

The bill, which passed 404-14, also provides funding to continue U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The stopgap funding bill is needed because the Oct. 1 start of the 2008 budget year is looming with none of the 12 spending bills funding government agencies and departments having been signed into law.

Senate Democrats have been slow to bring the 12 spending bills up for debate; neither have House-Senate negotiations started on the four bills that have passed both chambers. The House has passed all 12 and is frustrated by the Senate's dawdling pace.

The situation is reminiscent of last year, when Democrats lambasted Republicans for their poor performance in completing Congress' budget work. But the roles have been reversed because Democrats took control of Congress in January. California, top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

The Senate is expected to pass the stopgap measure by the end of the week for President George W. Bush to sign it into law.

The administration has taken a hard line on Democrats' attempts to add $23 billion (16.2 billion EUR)for domestic programs to Bush's $933 billion (660.4 billion EUR)request for the approximately one-third of the federal budget funded by the yearly spending bills. Veto threats hang over nine of the 12 bills and Democrats are struggling for a strategy on how to deal with them.

Democrats say the increases -for myriad domestic programs such as education, law enforcement, grants to local governments and health research -are modest relative to the cost of the war in Iraq and Bush's increases to the defense budget.

"The president would have the country believe that we ... are pouring money into the domestic budget," said Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey, a Democrat. "I would suggest that restoring $16 billion (11.3 billion EUR) in presidential cuts is mighty small potatoes compared to the $200 billion (141.5 billion EUR) he wants us to spend in Iraq."

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