US House approves stop-gap budget
US House approves stop-gap budget
Lawmakers voted along party lines 230-189 in support of the so-called continuing resolution that funds government operations at current levels up to Dec. 15, setting up a showdown with the Democratic-led Senate which will consider the measure next week.
Many federal agencies and programs will shutter on Oct. 1, day one of the coming fiscal year, if Congress and the president do not agree on a temporary budget measure.
But the Republican bill, in a nod to the party's more conservative wing, includes a provision that strips funding for the health care law, which its critics have nicknamed "Obamacare" and which the GOP has fought to repeal virtually since its passage more than three years ago.
"Let's defund this law now, and protect the American people from the calamity that we know this law will create," number two House Republican Eric Cantor told members in final debate before the vote.
Inclusion of the controversial provision, however, virtually assures that the bill will not become law, and sends the nation careening toward a possible shutdown.
Senate leader Harry Reid has promised defeat of the measure in the Democrat-run chamber.
"Republicans are simply postponing for a few days the inevitable choice they must face: Pass a clean bill to fund the government, or force a shutdown," Reid said in a statement after the House vote.
"The Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for three years. Democrats stand ready to work with reasonable people who want to improve it, but Republican attempts to take an entire law hostage simply to appease the Tea Party anarchists are outrageous, irresponsible and futile."
House Speaker John Boehner, savaged by Democrats who accuse him of caving in to extremists in his caucus, including some who say a partial shutdown would be a better alternative than keeping Obamacare in place, struck a tone of pride after the vote, saying the ball was now in Reid's court.
"The House has acted, and today we urge the Senate to take action," he said, to applause from Republican members.
The Senate will likely approve an amended resolution with no Obamacare provision, however, putting the House leadership under intense pressure to do the same — or revisit the health care debate and risk a potentially devastating government shutdown after Sept. 30.
"Unfortunately, we'll be back here again next week, facing the same crisis," House Democrat Nita Lowey said in arguing against the House bill.
House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi warned that members ought to "get our House in order" and avoid risking another fiscal crisis.
"We are not here to expand government, but we are not here to eliminate government," she said.
"What is brought to the floor here today is, without a doubt, a measure designed to shut down government. It could have no other intent."
Shortly before the vote, the White House warned of the dangers of "playing politics with the economy" by refusing to pass a temporary budget or raise the country's debt ceiling, which will need to occur by mid-October if the US Treasury is to avoid default.
"The last thing we can afford right now is a decision by a minority of Republicans in Congress to throw our economy back into crisis by refusing to pay our country's bills or shutting down the government," a White House official said.
Saudi Aramco aims to buy controlling stake in SABIC: Sources
- Riyadh-listed SABIC, the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals firm, has a market capitalization of 385.2 billion Saudi riyals
- The potential acquisition would affect the time frame of Aramco’s planned initial public offering set for later this year
DUBAI: Saudi Aramco aims to buy a controlling stake in petrochemical maker SABIC, possibly taking the entire 70 percent stake owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Late last week Aramco confirmed a Reuters report that it was working on a possible purchase of a “strategic stake” in Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC) from the Public Investment Fund, the kingdom’s top sovereign wealth fund.
Aramco’s initial thinking is to buy the full stake owned by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), but if that fails to materialize Aramco could end up with a stake in SABIC of more than 50 percent, making it a majority owner, the sources said.
No final decision has been made on the size of the stake as the discussions are still at a very early stage, they added.
Aramco declined to comment. The PIF did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Riyadh-listed SABIC, the world’s fourth-biggest petrochemicals firm, has a market capitalization of 385.2 billion Saudi riyals ($103 billion).
The potential acquisition would affect the time frame of Aramco’s planned initial public offering set for later this year, the state oil giant’s chief executive, Amin Nasser, said in a TV interview on Friday.
Aramco plans to boost investments in refining and petrochemicals to secure new markets and sees growth in chemicals as central to its downstream strategy to cut the risk of an oil demand slowdown.
Aramco plans to raise its refining capacity to between 8 million and 10 million barrels per day, from around 5 million bpd now, and double its petrochemicals production by 2030.
Aramco, the world’s largest oil producer, pumps around 10 million bpd of crude oil.