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Shutdown Averted

September 26, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

After FEMA announced earlier in the day that it could stretch its remaining disaster funding out through Friday, the end of the fiscal year, the Senate reached a deal that will keep the government open and operating, for now at least. The deal sidesteps what was the sticking point — whether or not extra FEMA funding for the rest of the year should be offset with cuts to other programs — and, once passed by the House, will keep the government funded until November 18th.

In addition to that six-week spending bill, the Senate also passed a one-week stopgap intended to give the House more time to debate the longer deal. The House is on vacation this week, but the plan appears to be for House leadership to approve the one-week bill later this week during a pro-forma session. The House will then debate and vote on the six-week bill when they come back into session next week. It is expected to be approved.

Both the stopgap and the six-week bill would fund discretionary programs at the rate of $1.043 trillion for fiscal year 2012. That’s about $7 billion less than 2012 funding levels and exactly the level Congress agreed to in the Budget Control Act. $685 billion will be spent on national security (i.e. DoD, Homeland Security, National Nuclear Security Admin…) and the remaining $359 billion will be used to fund all other domestic, non-entitlement programs.

The deal also contains a significant victory for the Democrats. Since there is no emergency 2011 FEMA funding included, there are no offsets either. Congressional Democrats argued that offsetting emergency disaster funding would set a new precedent that could make it more difficult for Congress to provide aid to victims of future emergencies.

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