The U.S. Senate on Monday night reached a deal to avoid a U.S. Government shutdown at the end of this week, as an impasse over emergency disaster relief funding was resolved.
Congress had been at odds over offsets for Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief. But FEMA on Monday said that the agency has $114 million for emergency disaster relief, avoiding the need for an infusion of money before the fiscal year ends Friday.
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called FEMA's announcement a way out of a disagreement that threatened to shut down the federal government.
Under the deal, the government will be funded until Nov. 18. FEMA will get $2.65 billion for 2012, while an extra $1 billion in immediate funding to allow the agency to aid natural disaster victims throughout the rest of the 2011 fiscal year was nixed. That made Republican demands for spending offsets elsewhere moot.
It's very clear this is the right way to go. It shows us the way out, Reid said on the Senate floor. The way out is to focus on 2012.
Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the floor that he lauded the deal, though he would have preferred to pass the legislation containing spending cuts Republicans in the House of Representatives approved Friday. The House has yet to sign off on the deal.
It is a reasonable way to keep the government operational, the Kentucky Republican said of the bipartisan deal.
Democratic / Republican Tango
There has been a legislative tango between House Republicans and Senate Democrats over a short-term government funding bill that would also fund FEMA, an agency with dwindling funds in the wake of disasters such as Hurricane Irene and tornadoes that ravaged Joplin, Mo.
The Senate on Friday effectively killed a House bill that provided FEMA $3.65 billion 59-36, offsetting the money with a $1.5 billion cut to the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicle Management loan program.
Democrats defended the program. Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said the program lets companies bring jobs back to America.
The latest government spending plan the Senate offered called for funding FEMA at the $3.65 billion figure that the House supported, while nixing cuts to the Department of Energy program.
Senate Democrats were unable to secure enough Republicans to meet the 60-vote threshold needed to advance Reid's funding plan, which failed 54-35.