The weirdness of Washington: US Congress passes temporary budget but chaos still reigns

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., gives two thumbs up as the Senate votes to approve a 45-day funding bill. Credit: AP

Well, that was close. 

Just hours before the US government was due to shut down amid the failure to pass a budget, the House of Representatives approved a bill that extends the deadline.

The Senate quickly followed and voted for the deal.  It buys time. 45 days to be exact, before the next budget crisis descends on Washington. 

Critics will rightly conclude that this is a crazy way to run a country.

The dysfunction in Congress, triggered by hard-right Republicans challenging the authority of their own speaker, is off the charts.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy. Credit: AP

We can expect a challenge to Kevin McCarthy in the next few days, with the right-wing Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz leading the charge.

Within the intra-Republican party battle lie many mini skirmishes that expose the tensions. Republicans have stripped away funding for Ukraine.

It’s likely that money may come from a different bill, but it’s still a stark reminder that there is no longer any consensus in Washington for the war in Ukraine.

Many Republicans are much more worried about America’s own Southern border than about Ukraine’s battle to retrieve land from Russia. 

Perhaps nothing summarises the weirdness of Washington right now more than an incident involving the liberal Congressman Jamaal Bowman.  He set off a fire alarm, an act captured by a security camera.

Was it a mistake as he appears to claim? Or was it a desperate ploy to delay a vote?

He has since apologised and said he was trying to open a locked door.

So it seems the US government lurches on and the Speakership of Kevin McCarthy survives.

But no one emerges in a great light. Not Congress - which has kicked the can down the road.

 Not Republicans - who are at war with each other. Not Democrats - with a member under investigation for pulling a bizarre stunt.

And especially not America, which has a government that seems barely able to function.

Want a quick, expert update on the biggest stories of the day? Here's What You Need To Know...