Senate passes 'clean' CR to avert shutdown

Monday - 9/26/2011, 8:05pm EDT

By Jolie Lee
Federal News Radio

The Senate, in a 79-12 vote, passed a six-week funding bill Monday evening, averting a government shutdown at the end of this week.

The Senate also passed a separate one-week continuing resolution — a stopgap measure to the larger one — which the House, currently on recess, will have to pass in a pro forma session before the end of the week.

Current funding for the government runs out on Friday.

The Senate had planned to recess this week as well, but returned to session Monday for the CR vote.

After a false start last week, the House approved its version of a CR on Friday. The bill funded disaster relief at $3.7 billion but at the cost of an environmental loan program run by the Energy Department that Democrats considered a job creator. The Senate rejected the House CR Friday.

However, A breakthrough came Monday after the Federal Emergency Management Agency indicated it had enough money for disaster relief efforts through Friday. That disclosure allowed lawmakers to jettison a $1 billion replenishment that had been included in the measure — and to crack the gridlock it had caused.

The Senate-passed CR includes $2.65 billion for FEMA at the start of the fiscal year.

And Monday evening's vote assured there would be no interruption in assistance in areas battered by disasters such as Hurricane Irene and last summer's tornadoes in Joplin, Mo.

The Senate's passage of a "clean" CR came after rejecting an amendment to the House CR to maintain disaster relief funding at $3.7 billion but remove any offsets.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in floor statements that the rejection of the amendment was "vindication."

House GOP leaders have not indicated whether they approve, although that seemed a mere formality after the party's Senate leader agreed to it.

"This compromise should satisfy Republicans ... and it should satisfy Democrats," said Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who added that he received confirmation from Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew that FEMA didn't need additional funding to get it through the fiscal year.

"It's a win for everyone," Reid said.

McConnell, himself, said it was a "reasonable way to keep the government operational," but that Senate Democrats should have simply passed the original House version last week.

"In my view, this entire fire drill was completely unnecessary," he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

RELATED STORIES

Senate leaders to attempt a compromise as shutdown looms

Analysis: Budget stalemate is centered on 'tiddlywinks' amount

Tags: Congress, Senate, budget, continuing resolution, FEMA, Harry Reid, shutdown