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US government on track to narrowly avoid shutdown after Senate approves one-week spending bill

Bernie Sanders let one hostage go, then took another in his fight for more Covid-19 stimulus checks

John T. Bennett
Washington Bureau Chief
Friday 11 December 2020 19:37 GMT
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The Senate voted to avert a government shutdown, sending Donald Trump a one-week spending bill to keep the federal lights on.

Senator Bernie Sanders, however, threatened a shutdown next week unless the chamber votes on giving Americans another round of coronavirus stimulus checks.

The president, once the White House receives the bill, has until midnight to sign it. The administration has not issued a formal veto threat, and Mr Trump has not mentioned it on Twitter.

Even if the government funding lapses for a few hours, most departments and agencies have unspent funds that would allow them to keep operating over the weekend. The White House’s budget and operations offices did not before the Senate’s unanimous consent vote instructed the entities to begin preparing for a shutdown.

Lawmakers resorted to a one-week spending bill in order to give time for talks about a government-wide appropriations bill and a Covid-19 relief package to continue. Most existing coronavirus assistance programs expire on 26 December.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday said Congress may not get a Christmas break, noting lawmakers stayed in town five years ago during the “fiscal cliff” saga.

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