Congress narrowly averts US government shutdown

Congress votes to keep US government open
National parks, museums and many other non-essential federal services could close during a government shutdown. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: President Biden has signed into law a temporary measure to keep the US government running until early December and avoid yet another federal shutdown.

Just hours before funding lapsed, Congress narrowly passed the bill. If the bill had been blocked, it would have forced federal museums, safety programmes and national parks to close.

The funding bill also includes money for resettling Afghan refugees and hurricane relief.

President Joe Biden signed the bill with just hours to go before the shutdown began.

In a statement after signing the measure, Mr Biden said: “There’s so much more to do. But the passage of this bill reminds us that bipartisan work is possible.”

The newly approved funding ensures that federal agencies don’t need to close down on Friday and hundreds of thousands of government employees will not have to take unpaid leave.

Of particular concern, given the ongoing pandemic, was the potential hit that health services could take. A plan prepared by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) found that in the event of shutdown, it may have been forced to send up to 43% of its staff home.

On Wednesday night, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate reached an agreement to keep the government open until 3 December, through a temporary budget called a continuing resolution.

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 65 to 35 on Thursday, with 15 Republicans voting to support it. In the House of Representatives, it passed 254 to 175.

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