Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Congress votes to end government shutdown

Washington, Jan 22 (EFE).- Both houses of Congress on Monday approved a budget bill to fully reopen the federal government, provided President Donald Trump signs the bill, thus ending a legislative stalemate that had created a serious, albeit temporary, federal funding crisis.

The Senate and House voted Monday to approve the budget bill reached in the upper house after a compromise between Democrats and Republicans, and now the bill will be forwarded to Trump for his signature.

Democratic and Republican lawmakers failed to reach agreement last week on a budget bill, causing the government to partially shut down last Friday at midnight.

But on Monday Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said that his party would drop its opposition to a bill funding government operations through Feb. 8, adding that his party’s lawmakers agreed to end the government shutdown in exchange for a pledge by the Republican majority to allow a vote on a bill to protect young undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to permit an immigration bill to be put to a vote next month.

President Trump hailed the agreement reached in the Senate to end the government shutdown in the coming hours, but he warned that he will only agree to an immigration deal with Congress if what lawmakers propose “is good for our country.”

“I am pleased Democrats in Congress have come to their senses and are now willing to fund our great military, border patrol, first responders and insurance for vulnerable children,” said Trump in a statement read by White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders at her daily press briefing.

“We will make a long-term deal on immigration if, and only if, it’s good for our country,” the statement concluded.

After an 81-18 vote, with 60 being needed to send the bill forward in the upper house, the Senate sent the bill’s text to the House of Representatives, where expectations were that it would be quickly approved, as indeed it was late Monday afternoon.

Last Friday, Democratic lawmakers prevented passage of the budget bill to fund the government, linking their support for it to Trump and Republicans agreeing to regularize the immigration status of the some 800,000 Dreamers living in the US.

Former President Barack Obama implemented the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to shield young undocumented migrants from deportation and to allow them to work and attend school, but Trump cancelled the program last year, giving Congress until March 5 to work out an alternative solution to deportation.

Republicans, meanwhile, are demanding that Democrats include funding for building Trump’s US-Mexico border wall in the government budget.