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Shutdown: Congress votes to keep US government open

President Joe Biden has signed into law a temporary measure to keep the government funded until early December and avoid yet another federal shutdown.

Congress narrowly passed the bill hours before funding lapsed, which would have forced federal museums, national parks and safety programmes to close.

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

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

The newly approved funding ensures that federal agencies do not 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 Covid-19 pandemic, was the potential hit that health services could take. A plan prepared by the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) found that it may have been forced to send up to 43% of its staff home in the event of a shutdown.

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

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

It comes amid a week jam-packed with other policy hurdles, particularly the delicate negotiations over President Biden's economic agenda.

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