It’s time for ‘America Now,’ bringing you live American news. Host: What news do we have today? Reporter: As the US federal government shutdown deadline approaches in five days, the passage of a temporary spending bill is facing difficulties due to opposition from some hard-line Republican lawmakers. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans to prioritize passing four major appropriations bills this week. Additionally, due to an increase in new coronavirus infections in the United States, the government has decided to provide free test kits to all households again. Host: Our first news is about the passage of the budget measure by Congress. Is there any progress in passing the 2024 financial year budget? Reporter: No, there is no clear progress yet. With only five days remaining until the end of the 2023 financial year on the 30th, a budget must be passed for the government to operate smoothly in the 2024 financial year. However, the budget has not yet been passed in Congress, making the potential government shutdown crisis more serious. Host: How does the National Assembly usually pass budget bills? Reporter: The budget bill that the US Congress must pass is known as an ‘appropriations bill.’ It is divided into 12 categories, including national defense, agriculture, and homeland security. While it is supposed to be passed separately, Congress typically combines them into an omnibus budget bill. Host: So why is the budget not being passed? Reporter: The reason is opposition from the Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line Republican lawmakers, who disagree with the government’s spending and demand significant cuts. Host: But wasn’t there an agreement between President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy regarding the 2024 budget? Reporter: Yes, there was. President Biden and Speaker McCarthy reached a broad agreement on the 2024 budget plan during debt limit negotiations in May. The agreement involved freezing the expenditure level in 2023 at around $1.6 trillion. However, hard-line Republican lawmakers oppose this level and demand it be lowered to the fiscal year 2022 level. Host: What level are they asking for? Reporter: Hardline lawmakers are demanding a budget of approximately $1.47 trillion. They urge Speaker McCarthy to cancel the agreement with President Biden and implement a budget plan at the level he promised before becoming Speaker of the House. Speaker McCarthy attempted to pass a temporary spending bill to prevent a shutdown, but it was blocked in the House of Representatives. Host: In this situation, are the House of Representatives and the Senate taking different approaches to avoid a shutdown? Reporter: Yes, that’s correct. In the House of Representatives, Speaker McCarthy initially tried to pass a temporary spending plan but changed course when it didn’t work. Now, he plans to introduce individual appropriations bills, including the defense and homeland security budgets. In the Senate, they intend to pass a temporary spending bill. However, the support for Ukraine is also a contentious issue in both chambers. Host: What about President Biden’s role in all of this? Reporter: President Biden urges Congress to pass the budget every day. On the 25th, he emphasized the agreement with Speaker McCarthy and expressed his concern over extreme House Republicans not honoring the deal. He warned that a shutdown would have consequences for all Americans. Host: A government shutdown would not only affect government operations but also have an impact on the economy, correct? Reporter: Moody’s, one of the world’s largest credit rating agencies, announced that a government shutdown would negatively impact the US credit rating. Currently, the US maintains a AAA rating from Moody’s, but a shutdown would highlight weaknesses in the country’s institutional and governance strengths. Host: Moving on to our next news. Is the US government providing free coronavirus test kits again? Reporter: Yes, that’s correct. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that starting from the 25th, free coronavirus test kits will be provided to all households. After the end of the coronavirus public health crisis in May, free testing has now resumed. Host: How can households apply for these test kits? Reporter: To apply, households can visit ‘CovidTests.Gov’ online and request four free tests. An email with a tracking number will be sent to the applicant. Alternatively, they can call 1-800-232-0233 if they cannot use email. The test kits will be delivered by the USPS starting next week. Host: Under what circumstances should the coronavirus test kits be used? Reporter: Test kits should be used if an individual has symptoms of coronavirus, such as a sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell, or fever. It is also recommended to get tested 5 days after close contact with an infected person, even if there are no symptoms. Furthermore, experts advise getting tested before attending crowded events or gatherings if an individual has not received the latest coronavirus vaccine. Host: How many times has the government provided free coronavirus test kits? Reporter: This is the fifth time. So far, the Postal Service has delivered 755 million kits. The government explained that they will continue to assess the situation and make further decisions accordingly.
It’s ‘America Now’ time, bringing you live American news.
Reporter) With the US federal government ‘shutdown’ deadline approaching in five days, passage of a temporary ‘temporary spending bill’ is facing difficulties due to opposition from some hard-line Republican lawmakers. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plans to pass four major appropriations bills first this week. As the number of new coronavirus infection patients increased in the United States, the government decided to provide test kits to all households for free again.
Host) America Now, the first news is about the passage of the budget measure by Congress. There is no clear progress yet in passing the 2024 financial year budget?
Reporter) That’s right. The 2023 financial year ends on the 30th. So, from the 26th, there are now 5 days left. A budget must be prepared at the start of the 2024 financial year for the government to operate without disruption, but the budget has not yet been passed in Congress. Because of this, the ‘shutdown’ crisis, where government functions are partially suspended, is becoming increasingly serious.
Host) How does the National Assembly usually pass budget bills?
Reporter) To accurately describe the budget bill that the US Congress must pass, it is an ‘appropriations bill.’ It is divided into a total of 12 areas, including national defense, agriculture, and homeland security. In theory, it is correct to introduce and pass each appropriations bill separately, but Congress passed it as a so-called ‘omnibus’ budget bill, which is usually processed as one.
Host) But why is the budget not being passed?
Reporter) The reason for this is that the Freedom Caucus, a group of hard-line Republican lawmakers, opposes the passage of the budget bill, disagrees with the government’s lax spending and demands a drastic cut in government spending.
Host) But wasn’t there an agreement between President Joe Biden and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy regarding the 2024 budget?
Reporter) That’s right. President Biden and Chairman McCarthy reached a broad agreement on the 2024 budget plan while concluding a debt limit negotiation plan last May. It was decided to freeze the expenditure level in 2023 rather than increase it. It is worth about 1.6 trillion dollars. However, hard-line Republican lawmakers oppose the passage of the budget bill, saying this level is too high and demanding it be lowered to the fiscal year 2022 level.
Host) What level are they asking for?
Reporter) Hardline lawmakers are demanding a budget of about $1.47 trillion. They urge Speaker McCarthy to cancel the agreement with President Biden and implement a budget plan at the level he promised before being elected Speaker of the House. Speaker McCarthy tried to pass a ‘temporary spending bill’, a temporary budget plan with a 30-day limit, to prevent a shutdown, but this was blocked even in the House of Representatives.
Host) In this situation, the House of Representatives and the Senate are all taking different approaches to avoid a shutdown?
Reporter) That’s right. Let’s look at the House of Representatives first. Speaker McCarthy tried to pass a temporary spending plan to avoid a shutdown, but changed course when this didn’t work. As hardline Republican lawmakers claim, each appropriations bill will be introduced individually. Chairman McCarthy plans to try to introduce four appropriations bills, including the national defense and homeland security budgets, on the evening of the 26th.
Host) Since the defense budget accounts for the largest share, passing this budget bill will be important. By the way, in the case of the defense appropriations bill, there were two separate attempts to introduce it, but didn’t it fail?
Reporter) That’s right. The presentation was attempted twice on the 19th and 21st, but both failed. Both times, it was not introduced due to withdrawal votes from the Republican Party. Chairman McCarthy told reporters on the 25th that lawmakers who had previously opposed the introduction of the defense appropriations bill were now ready to cooperate, and there was a possibility of passage. “Let’s keep the government running until we complete the passage of individual appropriations bills,” he said.
Host) Chairman McCarthy looks at it positively, but realistically, the situation is not that optimistic, right?
Reporter) That’s right. This is due to the content related to support for Ukraine which is included in the defense appropriations bill. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene is a representative example. Representative Green expressed his intention to oppose the introduction of this appropriations bill, noting that it includes at least $300 million in aid to Ukraine. Still, McCarthy said he hopes the attempt to introduce individual appropriations bills will garner sympathy and ultimately lead to passage of a stopgap spending bill that could avert a shutdown.
Host) Is there any movement in the Senedd?
Reporter) Unlike the House, the Senate intends to try to pass a temporary spending bill. Apart from the orderly vote of the House of Representatives on four appropriations bills on the evening of the 26th, the Senate will hold a vote on the temporary appropriations bill on the evening of the 26th, but it is not clear whether it will pass The issue of support for Ukraine is also at stake here. The amount of aid to Ukraine that President Biden originally requested was $24 billion. ‘The Hill’, a media outlet that specializes in Congress, reported that as the positions of the Democratic and Republican parties differ in the Senate, adjustments will be made.
Host) President Biden urges Congress to pass the budget every day, right?
Reporter) That’s right. On the 25th, President Biden emphasized the fact that he had agreed on a budget plan with Chairman McCarthy. “We made a deal, we shook hands,” President Biden said, noting, “I’m hoping now that a few extreme House Republicans won’t honor that deal.” President Biden went on to warn that if there is a shutdown, “all Americans may face a situation where they will have to pay the price.”
Host) If the government is shut down, there will be a hit not only to government operations but also to the economy, right?
Reporter) Moody’s, one of the world’s three largest international credit rating agencies, announced on the 25th that if the US government shutdown becomes a reality, it will have a negative impact on the US credit rating. Currently, the United States maintains a credit rating of AAA, the highest rating, from Moody’s. Moody’s noted that a shutdown would “highlight weaknesses in the institutional and governance strengths of the United States relative to other AAA-rated countries.”
Host) America Now, the next news. The US government is providing free coronavirus test kits again?
Reporter) That’s right. The Ministry of Health and Human Services announced that starting on the 25th, it will provide free coronavirus test kits to all households. On May 11, the coronavirus public health crisis ended after three years, and free testing also ended. We have decided to provide free kits again. Health and Human Services Secretary Javier Becerra said he hoped all households would use the free coronavirus testing kits being distributed during the fall and winter months when the respiratory virus is prevalent .
Host) How do I apply for a coronavirus test kit?
Reporter) If you go online to ‘CovidTests.Gov’ and apply, you can receive 4 free tests per household. If you apply through the website, a tracking number will be sent to the applicant’s email. If you cannot use email, you can apply by calling 1-800-232-0233. Delivery is expected to begin next week and will be delivered directly by the US Postal Service.
Host) In what cases should a coronavirus test kit be used?
Reporter) If you have symptoms of coronavirus, you must use a test kit. These include a sore throat, runny nose, reduced sense of smell or taste, and fever. In addition, if you have been in close contact with a patient infected with coronavirus, it is recommended to get tested 5 days later even if you do not have symptoms. Experts recommend that if an individual has not received the latest coronavirus vaccine, it is a good idea to get tested before attending crowded places such as large gatherings or concerts.
Host) How many times is it that the government provides free coronavirus test kits?
Reporter) This is the 5th time. The Postal Service has delivered 755 million kits to date. Authorities explained that it is not yet clear how many families will apply for coronavirus test kits this round. The Department of Health and Human Services has said it plans to continue accepting applications for several months. The government’s budget for providing coronavirus test kits is $600 million.
Host) The reason we are providing free coronavirus test kits again this time is because the coronavirus is spreading, right?
Reporter) That’s right. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2.7% of all deaths in the US between the 10th and 16th were related to the coronavirus. This is an increase of 12.5% compared to a week ago. The number of patients in hospitals also increased. The number of hospital admissions has continued to increase since last July and has now more than tripled compared to two months ago.
Host) Regarding the coronavirus, the health authorities recently approved the latest vaccination, right?
Reporter) That’s right. On the 11th, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an improved vaccine against the new coronavirus omicron mutation ‘XBB.1.5’. The next day, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advisory Committee met to discuss recommended targets for improved vaccination. Through discussion, the CDC recommended one vaccination for people aged 12 and over. Children under five who have never been vaccinated are recommended to receive two doses of Moderna’s enhanced vaccine and three doses of Pfizer’s enhanced vaccine. Health authorities also urged people to get a flu shot before the flu season, apart from the coronavirus vaccine.
Host) America Now, we will listen to this point.
#shutdown #imminent #Efforts #process #major #appropriations #bills #free #coronavirus #resurgence #test #kits