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U.S. Senate passes funding measure, averts gov't shutdown

(Xinhua)

15:14, September 27, 2011

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Senate on Monday night passed a six-week funding measure, and averted an embarrassing government shutdown that looms on the horizon as the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.

The Senate passed a funding measure that would get the federal government through until Nov. 18 with a 79-12 vote, and then passed a one-week stop-gap measure with a voice vote that funds the government through Oct. 4.

The stop-gap measure was needed as the House of Representatives is in recess this week. The stop-gap would enable lawmakers in the lower chamber to return to consider the six-week measure. The House would need to approve the stop-gap with unanimous consent in a pro forma session.

The Congress was again in gridlock for the past week over the government spending measure as the two parties could not agree on funding for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

FEMA's emergency relief fund, which provides relief for thousands affected by this summer's myriad of natural disasters, was nearly depleted, and was estimated to run out Tuesday or Wednesday, before this fiscal year ends.

Both parties want to give FEMA the money for the remainder of this year, but Republicans want to offset the spending elsewhere, while Democrats could not agree with the cuts the Republicans want to make, namely on programs of alternative energy. The Republican-controlled House has already passed a government spending measure with such cuts.

But FEMA officials said Monday that new estimates show the agency's relief funds would not run dry until the end of the week, coinciding with the end of this fiscal year, resolving the biggest sticking point to a deal between the two parties.

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