Sept. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Senate passed stopgap spending legislation in a bipartisan deal to avoid a threatened government shutdown and halt a feud over aid to victims of natural disasters.
The plan, passed 79-12, would fund the U.S. government through Nov. 18 and provide $2.65 billion in disaster aid for the next fiscal year without offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget. The fight over offsetting disaster aid for this fiscal year eased when the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had enough money to get through the week. The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
“We’ve basically resolved this issue,” Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “It means we no longer have to fight over 2011 funding.”
The Senate also will vote tonight on a short-term funding measure to keep the government operating until the House can consider the longer-term measure on Oct. 4. The House could approve a short-term funding measure by unanimous consent without bringing members back to Washington, although Republican leaders haven’t said whether such a vote will occur.
Republicans had demanded offsetting cuts in exchange for $1 billion to keep FEMA operating through the end of this week. That issue became moot after FEMA said today it has enough funds to help disaster victims through this week, said Brian Fallon, a spokesman for Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democratic leader.
FEMA had previously said it would run out of money early this week. Now, “FEMA says they have the money to cover it,” Fallon said.
“The majority leader has found a path forward,” said Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. “In my view this entire fire drill was completely and totally unnecessary, but I’m glad a resolution appears to be at hand.”
House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said in an e-mailed statement, “Republicans support getting Americans suffering in the wake of natural disasters the help they need - and doing it in a fiscally responsible way.”
--With assistance from James Rowley and Brian Faler. Editors: Laurie Asseo, Justin Blum.
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