WASHINGTON: The US Senate voted on Monday to reopen the government, ending a three-day standoff that left federal agencies shuttered and hundreds of thousands of workers in limbo.
In a house of 100, 81 senators voted to approve a spending bill that would allow the federal government to resume its functions normally. Only 18 senators voted against it.
Minutes before the vote, Senate Democrats announced that they have accepted a Republican offer for an immigration vote, a deal that would reopen the government after a three-day shutdown.
The announcement followed an assurance from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that he was willing to take up an immigration bill that would protect an estimated 800,000 immigrants from deportation. But this arrangement, under an open amendment process, would only reach the floor if Democrats agreed to end the government shutdown, said the Kentucky Republican.
Later, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said that the pledge was enough for Democrats to pass a three-week government funding bill, which will allow the federal government to resume.
“After several discussions, offers and counteroffers, the Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement. We will vote today to reopen the government to continue negotiating a global agreement,” said Senator Schumer, a New York Democrat.
The agreement led to the vote, which ended the shutdown. Senator Schumer said if Republicans did not bring the immigration bill by Feb 18 the Senate would then take up a separate bill and “the process will be neutral and fair to all sides”.
Earlier on Monday, hundreds of thousands of federal workers stayed at home as the shutdown entered its first working day.
Stephen S. Fuller, an economist at George Mason University, told The Washington Post that up to a quarter of the Washington area workforce of 3.2 million people could be affected by the shutdown.
Around 367,000 federal employees and 450,000 federal contractors live in the Washington area and 25 per cent to 30pc of the region’s economy is dependent on federal payroll or procurement spending.
The shutdown began at 12:01am local time on Saturday after Democrats in the US Senate delayed the passing of an appropriation bill that would have provided funds to the Trump administration to meet its expenditure until the final approval of the federal budget for the 2018-19 budget.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2018