Washington: As Congress missed the midnight funding bill deadline for the second time in three weeks, the federal government in US was faced with a temporary shutdown Thursday.
The partial shutdown began just after midnight when the government, operating on the latest in a series of short-term spending bills, ran out of money.
In a brief interview with The Washington Post, White House legislative affairs director Marc Short said the administration was preparing for the possibility of a temporary shutdown, perhaps spanning a few hours.
The shutdown ended after the US Congress passed the federal spending bill.
Here are the highlights from the US government shutdown.
Fate Of The Bill Uncertain?
The bipartisan measure, which passed 71 to 28, was now headed to the House of Representatives for what is expected to be a pre-dawn Friday vote, as congressional leaders scrambled to restrict the second government shutdown in three weeks to just a matter of hours, news agency AFP reported.
But the fate of the bill remained uncertain in the lower chamber of Congress, where fiscal conservatives have bridled at excessive spending allowed under the budget deal, and liberals complain that it does nothing to shield many undocumented immigrants from deportation, a longstanding Democratic priority.
The massive spending bill would raise military and domestic spending by almost $300 billion over the next two years. With no offsets in the form of other spending cuts or new tax revenues, that additional spending would be financed by borrowed money, according to Reuters report. Click here to read.
House Republican leaders on Thursday 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, Reuters reported.
After the massive spending bill was passed by the US Senate, the bill will go next to the House of Representatives, where lawmakers were divided along party lines and passage was uncertain.
The U.S. 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, Reuters reported.
The procedural vote limited debate on a bill that would fund the government through March 23 and increase spending limits over a two-year period, Reuters reported.
The U.S. Senate voted on Friday to move forward on legislation to end a government shutdown, after a single Republican lawmaker delayed the funding bill for hours to protest an expected increase in the U.S. deficit, Reuters news agency reported.
The massive bipartisan spending deal that would shower hundreds of billions of dollars on military and domestic programs alike, lift the federal debt limit for a year and speed disaster aid to hurricane-ravaged areas, The Washington Post reported.
As One Republican Senator Objected To The Spending Bill
All 100 members were required to give nod to move the legislation swiftly through the upper chamber of Congress, however, Senator Rand Paul objected.
The Kentucky Republican took the floor to blast the increase in federal spending limits, and in particular the fiscal irresponsibility of his own party.
"I can't in all good honesty and all good faith just look the other way because my party is now complicit in the deficits," Paul was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
The Republicans and Democrats sparred over the bipartisan budget agreement which further boiled over when dogged Senator Rand Paul refused to allow the Senate to act expeditiously to pass the spending measure.
The bill, which extends government funding for six weeks, raises the federal debt ceiling and increases federal spending limits for the next two years, would break the cycle of government funding crises in time for what is set to be a bruising campaign for November's mid-term election, news agency AFP reported.
The upper chamber of Congress closed up shop late Thursday and scheduled a reopening for a new session at 12:01 am Friday, when it will launch a new effort to pass the bill to extend government funding, news agency AFP reported.
In January, the US government had shut down for three days following a dispute over undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, reopening after Senate Democrats accepted assurances from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., that he would hold a floor debate on immigration this month, the Washington Post reported. Read here.
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