Where There's a Will There's a Way: Shutdown May be Averted

Where There's a Will There's a Way: Shutdown May be Averted

National Journal, The Hill, and Politico are reporting that a deal has been struck in the Senate that will keep the government operating after Friday.

The complete details are still emerging, but the key that broke the deadlock was news from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that its funds would last through the end of this week instead of running out tomorrow. That means the agency does not need more money in FY2011, which ends Friday.

FEMA had said it needed $1 billion to get through the rest of FY2011 and House Republicans had demanded offsets for that $1 billion of the $3.5 billion included in the Continuing Resolution (CR) it passed on Friday. The Senate killed that measure.

The Senate has now agreed to provide the same amount of disaster relief funding ($2.65 billion) for FEMA from the beginning of FY2012, which starts on Saturday, as what was provided in the House-passed bill. Since FEMA does not need the $1 billion for FY2011, then the House-passed offsets are moot and the two sides can agree on that issue. The House tied together the FEMA funding with the CR to fund the government through November 18. A CR is needed because none of the 12 appropriations bills that would fund the government in FY2012 has passed Congress yet.

The House is scheduled to meet only in pro forma session this week — today and Thursday. Members are in their districts or otherwise out of town. Ordinarily they would want to vote on these measures instead of passing a bill like this by unanimous consent. Thus, the Senate also passed a CR to fund the government through Tuesday until the House returns to regular business and can vote on the CR that lasts until November 18. The House could pass that bill by unanimous consent.

The upshot of all this complicated political maneuvering is that a government shutdown on Friday likely has been averted.

Until November 18, at least.

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