President Joe Biden approved a temporary measure to fund the government until December, and prevent another federal shutdown.

Congress passed the bill just minutes before funding expired. Federal museums, national parks, safety programmes would all have been forced to close.

It also contains money to help with hurricane relief or Afghan refugees.

However a separate vote on President Biden’s massive $1tn (£750bn) infrastructure bill was postponed.

Biden signed the bill to prevent a shutdown, with only hours left, and said that its passage “reminds me that bipartisan work can be done”.

Federal agencies will no longer have to shut down Fridays and thousands of employees won’t be required to go on unpaid leaves.

Particular concern given the Covid-19 epidemic is the possible impact on the health services. According to the Health and Human Services Department’s (HHS), it was possible that the department had to evacuate up to 43% its workforce in the case of a shut down.

The Senate’s Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement Wednesday night to close the government until December 3, through temporary funding called a continuing resolution.

On Thursday, the Senate voted 65 to 35 in favor of the measure. 15 Republicans voted to endorse it. It was passed by the House of Representatives (the lower chamber) 254-175.

The announcement comes amid an intense week of policy challenges, especially the delicate negotiations regarding President Biden’s economy agenda.

Nancy Pelosi, House Speaker initially stated that she would vote for the bill on Thursday night. However, due to sharp divisions between progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic party, it was delayed until Friday.

The bill is being opposed by progressives unless a separate and more comprehensive legislation regarding climate change and social security has been passed.

The party leaders claimed that the delay was temporary.

Infrastructure bill to provide $550bn in roads, bridges and internet for domestic priorities

Congress is also facing another urgent deadline. Within weeks, the US government must reach its borrowing limit.

Janet Yellen, Treasury Secretary to the US, stated this week that the US would reach its debt ceiling – the maximum amount the US can borrow – before October 18.

The warnings have been dire about the possibility of an unfavorable default on the US’ national debt. This could have serious consequences for the US as well as the world economy.

The US government will be able to meet its obligations if the debt limit is raised. Although unlikely, default could cause an economic recession and force millions of Americans, who depend on federal aid or paycheques, to lose their jobs.

Democrats control the House. They had already voted to approve a pair of measures last week that would suspend the ceiling and keep the government operating.

The Senate was blocked by Republicans. They cited the Biden Administration’s plan to increase spending to the tune of trillions of dollars as an excuse not to raise debt ceiling.

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