News / USA

US Senate Paves Way for Possible Federal Government Funding Extension

TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman

The U.S. Senate late Monday approved a short-term spending bill to fund the federal government through mid-November and avert a possible government shutdown.  Although the Senate bill differs slightly from a version put forth by the House of Representatives, and the House is not in session this week, Congress has a path to meet Friday’s funding deadline.  

For weeks, the only major roadblock to a spending extension has been partisan disagreements over expanding domestic assistance in the wake of a hurricane and other devastating natural disasters.  Last week, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a bill that would add billions of dollars to disaster aid, but would trim a federal fuel efficiency program to offset spending and stay within bipartisan budget targets.

The House bill was defeated in the Democratically-controlled Senate, where many lawmakers objected to the concept of seeking budget savings as a precondition for approving assistance to Americans in need.

Democratic Senator Charles Schumer of New York said the House action sets a bad precedent for the nation.

“The next earthquake, are we going to have to debate how much to cut border patrol funds?  In the next disaster, when fires are ravaging across Texas or New Mexico or California, are we going to have to debate how much to cut food safety inspectors?  That is not our way, " said Schumer.

On Monday, Senate Democrats put forth a spending bill identical to the House version, except it did not contain budget cuts to pay for disaster aid.  That bill was defeated on a procedural vote, with most Republicans opposing it.

Then Senate Democrats pointed to a newly-released report, saying that the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has enough funds to last through the end of the current fiscal year, which expires on Friday.  They argued that no immediate boost in FEMA funding was required, and that funds budgeted for the beginning of the new fiscal year in October would suffice for now.  Democrats proposed a new spending bill with no immediate cash infusion for FEMA and no budget offsets.

Most Senate Republicans embraced the bill, including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who chastised Democrats for forcing days of Senate activity to achieve a result only slightly different from last week’s House bill.

“In my view, this entire fire drill [exercise] was completely and totally unnecessary," said  McConnell. "But I am glad a resolution appears to be at hand.”

The bill passed the Senate 79 to 12.

Now, only one issue remains - House consideration of the Senate bill.  As Senate Majority Leader Democrat Harry Reid noted, the House is in recess this week and unlikely to return before the Friday deadline for extending government funding.

“The House of Representatives, as we speak - they left," said reid. "They are gone.  They are not in Washington.  It is real hard to negotiate with people who are not here.”

One possible solution would be for a small number of Representatives to convene this week for a voice vote extending government funding until next Monday, when the full chamber will be in session.  At that point, the six-week funding extension could be approved and sent to the White House for President Barack Obama’s signature.

If accomplished, the U.S. government would be funded until mid-November, when another budget battle might ensue.  

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid