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US Shutdown: Congress Avoids Government Shutdown At The Last Minute

President Joe Biden has signed a bill into law that will finance the government until early December, avoiding yet another government shutdown.

The law was narrowly enacted by Congress only hours before money ran out, forcing government museums, national parks, and safety programs to close.

Money for storm assistance and Afghan refugees is also included in the measure.

A separate vote on President Biden’s $1 trillion (£750 billion) infrastructure plan has been postponed.

Mr. Biden, who signed the law avoiding a government shutdown with only hours to spare, said its success “reminds us that bipartisan collaboration 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 vacation.

Given the current Covid-19 epidemic, 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 developed by HHS.

Republicans and Democrats in the Senate reached an agreement on Wednesday night to keep the government running until December 3 through a temporary budget known as a continuing resolution.

On Thursday, the bill cleared the Senate by a vote of 65 to 35, with 15 Republicans voting in favor. It passed the lower chamber, the House of Representatives, by a vote of 254 to 175.

It comes in the midst of a week full of other policy challenges, including the delicate discussions over President Biden’s economic program.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had announced she would hold a vote on the infrastructure measure late Thursday, but it was postponed until at least Friday due to severe divisions between the Democratic party’s progressive and centrist wings.

Progressives have refused to endorse the law until a second, more comprehensive measure dealing with climate change and social welfare is agreed.

The postponement, according to party officials, is only a short setback.

The infrastructure plan would allocate $550 billion to roads, bridges, broadband, and other domestic needs.

Another critical deadline that Congress must meet is the US government’s borrowing ceiling, which will be reached in the coming weeks.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned this week that the US debt ceiling, or the limit on how much the government can borrow, will be reached by October 18.

It has generated apocalyptic predictions of a national debt default that may have far-reaching consequences for the US and the global economy.

The US government will be able to fulfill its existing obligations if the debt ceiling is raised. Though improbable, defaulting may precipitate an economic collapse, causing millions of Americans who rely on federal paycheques or help to go without.

The Democratic-controlled House had already passed a bill last week that would keep the government open while also suspending the debt ceiling.

The bill was rejected in the Senate by Republicans, who cited the Biden administration’s plans to enact trillions of dollars in new spending as a rationale for not raising the debt ceiling.

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