Congress votes to keep the US government operating during the shutdown
President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law that will finance the government until early December, avoiding yet another government shutdown.
The bill was narrowly enacted by Congress only hours before the money ran out, forcing government museums, national parks, and safety programs to close. A separate vote on President Biden's $1 trillion (£750 billion) infrastructure measure has been postponed.
Mr. Biden, who signed the bill averting a shutdown with just hours to go, said its passage "reminds us that bipartisan work is possible". Federal agencies will not have to close on Friday as a result of the freshly authorized money, and hundreds of thousands of government employees will not have to take unpaid leave.
Given the current Covid-19 outbreak, the possible impact on health services was of special concern. In the case of a shutdown, the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) may have been compelled to send up to 43% of its employees home, according to a plan created by HHS.
Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reached an agreement on Wednesday night to keep the government open until December 3 through a temporary budget known as a continuing resolution. The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote of 65 to 35.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced she would hold a vote on the infrastructure plan late Thursday, but it was postponed until at least Friday due to significant divisions between the Democratic party's progressive and centrist wings.
Progressives have refused to endorse the law until a separate, more comprehensive bill dealing with climate change and social welfare is negotiated. The postponement, according to party leaders, is only a short setback. The infrastructure package would allocate $550 billion to roads, bridges, broadband, and other domestic needs. Another deadline that Congress must meet is the US government's borrowing limit.
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