US Congress pass stopgap bill to fund federal agencies, avoiding government shutdown

The US Congress has passed a stopgap bill to fund federal agencies until 18 February, avoiding a costly government shutdown over the festive season.

In a 69-28 vote, the Senate backed the measure approved earlier by the House of Representatives. President Joe Biden is now expected to sign it into law.

“I am glad that, in the end, cooler heads prevailed,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

The bill was passed hours before the funding would have stopped on Friday.

This would have left unpaid millions of workers in the public sector over Christmas and New Year, and museums and parks would have been shut.

A group of Republican Senators had threatened to derail the funding bill in protest over Mr Biden’s push for the federally-mandated Covid vaccination for employees at large companies

But their attempt to attach an amendment preventing the enforcement of the vaccine initiative was thwarted by Democrats.

The funding bill was approved by the House of Representatives earlier on Thursday in a 221-212 vote.

It is the latest example of the bitter political tug-of-war around government funding that has resulted in several shutdowns in recent years.