Yeah, that was ugly. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Senate leadership figured out how to avert a shutdown, and came up with a deal
to keep the government operating until mid-November (presuming the House plays along). The deal was made possible by FEMA pinching enough pennies of already appropriated funds—and rationing aid—to make it through the rest of this week, and thus the rest of this fiscal year.
Here are the basics of the deal.
Under a last-minute arrangement reached by the two parties, the Senate agreed to pass a measure that would fund the government for six weeks, through Nov. 18.
The Senate also was set to approve a one-week stopgap measure that would fund the government through Oct. 4.
The Senate passed the clean continuing appropriation—no supplemental funding for FEMA, and thus no offsets—79-12. Then they passed the one-week stop-gap by voice vote. It will fund the government through Oct. 4, and can be passed in the House by unanimous consent, while the House is still in recess and holding pro forma sessions. That will give the House enough time when they return to consider the six-week funding bill.
Yes, the Democrats didn't take this to the bitter end and force Republicans' hands on a shutdown. But note, the Republicans caved to make this deal and worked to avoid being responsible for a shutdown. They didn't find a new budget slashing hill to die on.
Also, because this bill is funding for FY 2012, it includes $2.65 billion in non-offset FEMA funding, so the principle of not cutting other spending in order to pay for disaster relief has been upheld. However, the disaster relief fight probably won't end here, because the White House says FEMA will need $4.6 billion for the next fiscal year, while congressional Democrats say the figure is more like $7 billion.