A partial government shutdown was narrowly avoided this week, and the House of Representatives is scheduled to move forward on a bipartisan agreement ending a dispute over disaster relief spending.
According to the office of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Virginia), the government will be funded until October 4 through legislation approved by the House of Representatives. Next Tuesday, a more comprehensive measure will be taken to keep Washington funded through November 18.
Americans have endured a record year (in terms of natural disasters) as a series of wildfires, tornadoes, Tropical Storm Lee, Hurricane Irene and more, wreaked havoc on various parts of the country.
As a result, the urgency to pass these bills is fueled by the depleted funds of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), as the federal response to these natural disasters has left FEMA in financial ruins.
Although most House members are currently away from Washington on a one-week recess, today’s legislation approval will occur via “unanimous consent,” – a maneuver that allows a minimum of two House members to approve a bill as long as no objections are filed.
The Senate passed the first bill Monday night (79-12) to fund the federal government in the beginning weeks of the new fiscal year. The second bill to fund the government until the third week in November was approved on a voice vote.
Increased disaster relief funding for the current fiscal year was completely denied, as Republicans demanded spending cuts elsewhere in exchange for approving needed FEMA funds. FEMA gave in to the Republican pressure Monday, to prevent $1.5 billion in cuts to a program designed to make cars more fuel-efficient. As a result, many Americans in federal disaster areas will be without government assistance for another week until the new fiscal year begins.
Democrats complained that this political rhetoric has needlessly held up the disaster relief funding by demanding unprecedented spending offsets for required emergency aid. However, Democrats stated that if they had agreed to the GOP’s demands, Congress would have set a dangerous precedent of subjecting disaster relief funds to unrelated political bickering.
The new fiscal year will bring a temporary solution to FEMA’s financial nightmare. However, it’s uncertain if Congress will put aside political agendas for the sake of the health and safety of disaster area victims.
Jonathan Slappey writes for Quicken Loans, ranked “Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Primary Mortgage Origination” by J.D. Power and Associates. Check out what some of our amazed customers have to say at Epinions.