WASHINGTON: The US Senate has approved legislation to temporarily fund the government in an effort to avoid a partial shutdown just before Christmas after President Donald Trump backed away from his demand for USD 5 billion for a controversial border wall with Mexico to prevent illegal immigration.
Senators on Wednesday passed the measure, which would keep government running to 8 February. The House of Representatives needs to pass similar bill to avoid a government shutdown this weekend.
House, in which the Republicans currently has a majority, is expected to pass the bill, but unlikely to include funding for the border wall.
Unless the issue is resolved, more than 800,000 federal workers would face furloughs or be forced to work without pay, disrupting government operations days before Christmas.
Democratic Leader and Speaker-designate, Nancy Pelosi, said her party would support the bill to avert government shutdown.
The House is likely to pass the bill on Thursday, before it heads to the President Donald Trump to sign it into law.
Trump said in an Oval Office meeting with top congressional Democratic leaders last week that he would be "proud" to shut down part of the government in service of forcing Congress to give him the full USD 5 billion he wants for a border wall.
The administration appeared to soften its stance on Tuesday when White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said on Fox News, "At the end of the day we don't want to shut down the government."
The border wall was central to Trump's presidential campaign.
"The American people know the president's wall is ineffective, expensive, and only serves as a political bone to his most conservative supporters, certainly not worth a government shutdown," Senator Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, said.
"It's good that Republicans in the Senate finally realised that they should not shut down the government over a wall that does not have enough support to pass the House or Senate and is not supported by a majority of the country," Schumer said.
"It is unfortunate that Trump's demand for a border wall from sea to shining sea has held up seven appropriations bills that have been debated and passed out of committee on a bipartisan basis," said Senator Dick Durbin.