Government Shutdown Averted With Temporary Senate Compromise Measures

Posted on September 29, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

by Caren Z. Turner

Monday night the Senate approved two temporary measures that together will fund the government through the first seven weeks of FY2011, which begins Saturday. The first measure, approved by a voice vote, is a one-week funding bill which will finish off FY2010. The second measure, passed by a 79-12 vote, will fund the government through November 18.

In an agreement with the Senate, the House will approve the one-week funding measure by unanimous consent in a pro forma session on Thursday, giving House members enough time to return from their weeklong recess in order to consider the second funding measure.

What had initially threatened a government shutdown was disagreement over $1.5 billion in spending offsets to the $3.6 billion in disaster relief funding that were included in the House’s short-term continuing resolution to fund the government through mid-November. Democrats in the Senate flatly rejected the offsets, saying disaster relief for Americans should be unencumbered. Further concerning Democrats was that the offsets proposed by Republicans targeted green energy initiatives which Democrats support.

It is worth noting that a recent memo put out by the Congressional Research Service shows very few instances in the past twenty years when either Republicans or Democrats has demanded cuts to offset monies going into FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund.

The compromise measures, which do not include any offsets, were reached after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) informed lawmakers that its disaster relief fund (DRF) would last through the remainder of this week without any need for additional emergency funds. As a result no new funds for the DRF are in the one-week funding bill, but are included in the FY2011 six-week funding bill.

The path to the Senate compromise measures came with some sharp frustration directed at House Republicans by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), who called Senators back into session yesterday to vote.

“The House, as we speak, on the eve of the government shutting down next Saturday, and FEMA on the verge of having no money, they left, they are gone, they are not in Washington,” he said on the Senate floor. “It’s really hard to negotiate with people who are not here.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said the compromise deal was a “vindication” for Republicans.

“Before we spend taxpayers’ money, we should have a real accounting of what’s actually needed,” he said. “In my view, this entire fire drill was completely unnecessary. But I’m glad a resolution now appears to be at hand.”

Turner GPA is one of the premier, highly respected government and public affairs firms in the nation. Turner’s state-of-the-art advocacy has earned them respect and acclaim from the media, clients, policymakers and even their competitors! Turner advocates on behalf of cutting edge businesses, municipalities, and non-profits that wish to ensure their perspectives and needs are taken into account in Washington, in state capitols and in City Hall, as well as in the media. The firm creates and implements intensely focused and targeted advocacy campaigns designed to meet and exceed its client’s expectations and goals. For more information on Turner GPA, visit http://www.turnergpa.com or call 202-466-2511.

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