US shutdown: Congress approves last-minute bill to end impasse
By FLONAD News
US Congress has approved a bill to fund the Government through until March 23 and to increase overall spending limits over two years, sending the legislation to President Donald Trump for approval.
The bill, approved 240-186 by the House of Representatives, would end an hours-long Government shutdown that started on Thursday at midnight (local time) when current Government funding expired.
Mr Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. The Senate approved it earlier on Friday.
The scrambling to secure a deal came hours after the federal shutdown began, in an embarrassing setback for the Republican-controlled Congress.
A three-day shutdown of the federal government began last month on the anniversary of the inauguration of Mr Trump, who played little role in attempts by party leaders earlier this week to head it off and end months of fiscal squabbling.
House Republican leaders had offered assurances that the package would be approved, but so did Senate leaders and the critical midnight deadline, when current government funding authority expired, was still missed.
The reason for that was a nine-hour, on-again, off-again Senate floor speech by Kentucky Republican senator Rand Paul, who objected to deficit spending in the bill.
The unexpected turn of events dragged the Senate proceedings into the wee hours and underscored the persistent inability of Congress and Mr Trump to deal efficiently with Washington’s most basic fiscal obligations of keeping the Government open.
The US Office of Personnel Management advised millions of federal employees shortly after midnight to check with their agencies about whether they should report to work on Friday.
Because the House acted before daybreak to approve the package from the Senate, there will be no practical interruption in federal government business.
If it did not, the result would have been an actual shutdown.
Mr Paul said during his marathon speech, which strained fellow senators’ patience, that the two-year budget deal would “loot the Treasury”.
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