PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Companies that rely on helium have been holding their breath, but it now appears an impending shutdown of the nation’s helium reservoir may be averted.

For 21 years, Elaine Leff has owned MissElaineous Balloons and made balloon decorations for a variety of events.

But she says in the last few years, the price of helium has tripled because of a shortage, and that’s forced her to raise her prices.

The fear is that a possible shutdown would have made things even worse.

Rick Williamson, from Jackson Welding Supply Company, says helium isn’t just used for balloons, but for a variety of businesses you might never realize.

It’s used by welders, deep sea divers, as well as makers of MRI machines, computer chips and fiber optics.

A law passed in the 1990s required that the Federal Helium Reserve be shut down on Oct. 7 if Congress did nothing to stop it.

But the U.S. Senate passed a bill Thursday that would prevent the shutdown. The House had passed a slightly different bill earlier. They now need to work out the differences before the deadline hits.

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