US Congress
The U.S. Capitol dome and U.S. Senate (R) in Washington, August 2, 2011. Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

US Congress voted on 30 September to fund the government through 11 December and avert a shutdown at midnight. Members of Congress must now negotiate a longer-term budget solution to prevent another potential government shutdown at the end of the year.

"As we go forward, we'll have some difficult choices to make," California Democrat Nancy Pelosi said. "Let us take heed of the words of Pope Francis, who urged us to work together for the good of the people."

According to ABC News, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who announced he is running for House Speaker, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who is running to replace McCarthy, both voted to keep the government running. However, Congressman Tom Price, who is running against Scalise, voted against the bill.

The Senate voted first on 30 September, 78-20 to approve the bill that does not contain the controversial provision to defund Planned Parenthood. While Senate Republicans were keen to defund the women's health care organisation, GOP leaders agreed to remove it when Senate Democrats made it clear they would continue to block the measure, USA Today reported.

The bill extends current funding levels for government agencies and adds $700m (£462.7m) to fight wildfires. "The bill before us would keep the government open and allow time for cooler heads to prevail," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said.

The House of Representatives then voted for the funding bill, 277-151. Members of the House passed a separate, symbolic measure to defund Planned Parenthood, 241-185, even though it will not be taken up by the Senate, according to USA Today.

According to ABC News, Congress next will have to tackle the debt ceiling, with the government soon loosing the ability to borrow money. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced recently that the US government will not be able to pay its bills after October.

McConnell said on 29 September that Republicans are preparing for budget negotiations on the impending funding cliff and spending deadlines. "The president and Speaker Boehner and I spoke about getting started on the discussions las week," McConnell said. "I would expect them to start very soon."

On 25 September, Boehner made the surprising announcement that he was resigning from Congress on 30 October. His resignation made the government shutdown all but unlikely. However, his successor will have to deal with a potential shutdown in December.

"That means within the coming weeks we will again be negotiating with Republicans to avoid another shutdown," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said. "Our constituents don't want every simple legislative task to turn into a doomsday clock."

President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law before the deadline at midnight. The 2016 fiscal year begins on 1 October. The last government shutdown in 2013 lasted 16 days and cost the US economy around $24b, USA Today reported.