Hurrah! Thanks to a bipartisan Senate agreement over disaster funds, government will not shut down at the end of the week! Instead, it will probably shut down in November.
The stupid fight Republicans started over disaster aid funding—they said that they couldn't approve more funding for FEMA in the stopgap funding resolution unless there were cuts to energy programs, surprise!, supported by Democrats—is over for now. As it turns out, FEMA has enough money to last through the end of the fiscal year (Friday night), at which point their coffers will be replenished, meaning that Republicans no longer had a bargaining chip, where by "bargaining chip" we mean "thousands of people in desperate need of federal disaster assistance." As Brian Beutler explains:
The development represents a setback for Republicans who have been demanding that disaster relief funds be financed with cuts to programs Democrats support. Though the issue never fully came to a head, Republicans could have dragged the fight out longer. They had demanded that $1 billion worth of supplemental FEMA funds be offset by nixing a program to promote the production of hybrid vehicles. That $1 billion turned out not to be necessary — FEMA didn't need them. But under the terms of the deal, FEMA will still be given over $2 billion in disaster relief funds for the start of fiscal year 2012 — with no offsets. This maintains the spirit of the August debt limit deal, which included allowances for over $10 billion in non-offset emergency funding every year, but it suggests that Republicans didn't ultimately want to take their demand to its logical conclusion and keep pushing for offsets.
The most exciting thing about the deal? The government is now funded through mid-November, meaning we get six solid weeks of rest before this fight starts all over again. Get your Smithsonian vists in now!
[TPM, image via AP]