US shutdown over, new deadline looms

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Washington, Jan 23 : US President Donald Trump has signed a temporary funding bill ending a nearly three-day government shutdown, capping off deadlock and reinstating funds for a fortnight, a senior official said.

The federal government is expected to be back in business on Tuesday. Thousands of federal employees who had been placed on temporary, unpaid leave since Saturday, breathed a sigh of relief, the BBC reported.

Late on Monday, the Democratic leadership agreed to back the bill after accepting promises from Republicans for a debate later “on the future of young illegal immigrants”. This stopgap funding will expire on February 8.

The House and the Senate voted Monday to end the government shutdown, extending funding for three weeks, following a deal reached between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The House passed the continuing resolution 266-159, with 36 more yes votes than the four-week resolution they passed last week, after the Senate earlier passed the bill by an 81-18 margin. 

However, key issues remained unresolved, the CNN said.

This so-called continuing resolution keeps the government funded until the second week of February in the hope that the Congress could reach a longer-term budget agreement in the meantime. 

Trump took a swipe at the Democrats as he signed the bill: “I am pleased that the Democrats in the Congress have come to their senses. We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it is good for our country.”

McConnell said his party had “come to an arrangement” to negotiate on their calls for an immigration deal. Democrats want protections from deportation for so-called Dreamers — more than 700,000 young immigrants brought to the US as children.

But Republicans had insisted no agreement was possible while the federal government services were closed.

This was the fourth temporary measure since October 2017, because Capitol Hill cannot agree on a longer-term budget, the media said.

The Democrats would still want something tangible on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) but it was problematic because it could run into the February 8 funding deadline, Republican Senator Jeffry Lane Flake said.

Democrats voiced scepticism and some liberal groups were infuriated by the agreement to reopen the government.

Possible Democratic 2020 presidential candidates in the Senate – Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris – all voted against Monday’s bill.

On Twitter, “Democrats CAVED” was trending on Monday evening.

Schumer accused Trump of failing to help reach a deal. “The great deal-making President sat on the sidelines,” he said. 

But many have expressed dissatisfaction with Schumer’s handling of the shutdown, which began on midnight on Friday.