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House passes short-term bill to keep government open

Congress gave final approval to a stop-gap measure to fund the government and disaster aid for the next few days, averting for now the threat of a weekend government shutdown.

The House approved the measure without opposition in a voice vote, which required only a few lawmakers to return from the Rosh Hashanah recess for the procedural step. The Senate agreed to the legislation this week.

The legislation will fund the government beginning Saturday, start of the new fiscal year, through Tuesday. It will also replenish depleted disaster accounts, which were about to run dry after the raft of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and other natural disasters this year.

But the brief moment of comity only underscores the deep partisan divide.

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Congress had again brought the nation to the brink of a shutdown in a dispute over federal budgets. Funding for disaster aid became a lightning rod, as Republicans insisted any additional aid for victims of Hurricane Irene and the most recent disasters be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere. Democrats refused this approach, leading to a days-long impasse.

That ended once the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it had enough disaster aid to provide assistance through the week, relinquishing the need for supplemental funds this fiscal year, which ends Friday.

This week, the Senate passed a funding bill to keep the government and disaster aid running through Nov. 18.

The House will return Tuesday to consider approval of the broader measure, which will probably face opposition from conservatives who want to cut spending.

lmascaro@tribune.com


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