News / USA

    US Senate Paves Way for Possible Federal Government Funding Extension

    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

    Candidates' Comments Fly Like New Hampshire Snowflakes

    Four days ahead of the country's first-in-the-nation Republican and Democratic party primary elections, surveys show the parties' contests tightening

    South Korea Says North Korea Moving Closer to Rocket Launch

    Pyongyang had notified International Maritime Organization and ITU of plan to launch 'Earth observation satellite' between Feb. 8 and Feb. 25, but has now changed the dates

    Australian Commander: IS Changing Tactics

    Head of Australian forces in Middle East talks with VOA about training Iraqi troops, countering evolving Islamic State efforts and defeating extremism

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.