Erika Johnsen

Well, what do you know - here we are again, running around like chickens with our heads cut off to avoid a government shutdown. The federal government's fiscal year ends at the close of September, and since budgets and debt ceilings are for silly, tedious, fiscally responsible people, Congress is once again playing political brinkmanship and trying to pass another stopgap measure to keep the government running until November 18th.

Republicans in the House of Representatives regrouped on Friday to approve a must-pass spending bill, but the prospect of a government shutdown loomed as Democrats said it would go nowhere in the Senate.

By a largely party-line vote of 219 to 203, the Republican-controlled House approved a bill that would keep the government running through November 18 and provide $3.65 billion for disaster relief in one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S. history.

The first version of the stopgap bill failed to pass a House vote on Wednesday, and since both the House and Senate are scheduled for a recess next week,  Speaker Boehner was forced to marshal his troops, reports The Hill:

For Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the vote was little more than a mulligan. After 48 Republicans opposed his bill on Wednesday, he faced a choice: Scrap a spending cut to win over Democrats who had pulled their support for the bill, or persuade dissenting conservatives that the original bill was the best deal they could get.

Boehner chose his right flank, adding a sweetener in the form of a $100 million rescission to the loan guarantee program that funded the bankrupt energy company Solyndra.

As Speaker Boehner tweeted this morning,

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federal disaster relief is supposed to run out on Monday, and Democrats are using the recent hurricanes and floods as reasons to not cut spending:

Democrats opposed the GOP bill en masse because it partially offsets $3.65 billion in funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with a $1.5 billion cut to a separate Department of Energy manufacturing loan program.

“The bill the House will vote on tonight is not an honest effort at compromise. It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement Thursday night before the House vote.

“I was optimistic that my House Republican colleagues would learn from their failure yesterday and move towards the middle. Instead, they moved even further towards the Tea Party.”

Again with the "extreme, radical" Tea Party excuses! We need to put this country back on a fiscally sustainable path, allow people to keep more of their own money, and stop growing the federal government. This isn't radical - it's reality. The way Harry Reid speaks, you'd think that we simply cannot live without every single government program in existence, and that's the sort of thinking that is slowly but surely driving this country towards the brink.

Update: Of course, it's always the Republicans' fault. Tell me, Democrats, where's that budget of yours? Also from The Hill:

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Friday chastised Republicans for playing politics with a government spending measure.

"This is the basic responsibility that Congress has, " Carney said. "This should not be that hard."

Congress is locked in another stalemate over a measure to keep the government funded through Nov. 19. The House approved a measure early Friday with GOP support after failing to move a similar measure on Wednesday, but Senate Democrats object to provisions on disaster spending and are expected to reject it.

Update II: It's time to break out your shutdown clocks again, as the Senate predictably did not go for the House-passed continuing resolution, reports National Journal:

The Democratic-controlled Senate voted to reject a continuing resolution passed by the House early on Friday, leaving Congress locked in another game of government shutdown chicken over disaster aid funding as House Republicans threatened to leave town.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., declined to say if the House will leave on Friday afternoon for a week-long recess. House Republicans delayed formally sending the Senate the measure to fund the government through Nov. 18. Democrats called it an effort to leave the upper chamber with a take it or leave it proposition.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used a procedural tactic to consider the measure and forced a vote to table the bill that would have provided $3.65 in FEMA disaster relief funds. The Senate wants $6.9 billion provided, without offsetting cuts elsewhere in the budget.


Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.