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US government shutdown to end

The US government is set to resume full operations today after lawmakers approved new temporary spending legislation on 16 October.

Hours before Congress finished its work, President Barack Obama said that he would sign the measure as soon as he received it — an action that would officially end the shutdown that began on 1 October, sending many government employees home and halting most activity at federal agencies.

Lawmakers agreed to fund government operations through 15 January — setting the stage, perhaps, for another budget stalemate like the one that led to the 16-day shutdown.

Now it is back to work for US government scientists, most of whom had been barred from their offices and laboratories and even their government e-mail accounts during the shutdown. “Employees should expect to return to work in the morning,” according to a message distributed by the White House shortly before midnight local time in Washington DC.

The National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and other federal agencies will also resume processing grant applications, though there is no word yet whether the shutdown will delay or cancel new awards. And US government websites are expected to come back online soon, restoring researchers’ access to key databases such as the temperature information maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center and software tools such as the Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST), which is used widely in genetic research.

For more information, see Nature’s ongoing coverage of the US government shutdown and its aftermath.


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