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WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a third stop-gap spending bill in less than five months to keep the government funded and avoid a damaging shutdown.

The current spending deal runs out on February 18 and, if no action had been taken, hundreds of thousands of government workers risked being sent home without pay as federal properties closed.

In reality, a shutdown was never really on the cards, with both sides signaling they were on board with another temporary fix. In the end, 51 Republicans voted ‘yes’ with the Democrats.

As soon as it is green-lit by the Senate — a formality expected in the coming days — the fix effectively kicks the can down the road until March 11.

That gives lawmakers the breathing space to reach a larger, long-term spending package to cover the rest of the fiscal year through September 30.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced confidence on the Senate floor that “Democrats and Republicans can soon arrive at a topline deal.”

Included in the short term patch are a $350 million boost for the military’s Red Hill water contamination crisis in Hawaii and funding for nuclear submarines and government cybersecurity.

Rank-and-file members in both chambers have warned that if Congress cannot move beyond temporary fixes, billions of dollars made available last year through President Joe Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure package will remain in limbo.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the goal was to get a broader, long-term package passed on the floor shortly before the March 11 deadline.

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