With DC Fashion Week wrapping up yesterday, and Congress back in session, one thing is clear: federal government shutdowns are the new black. This time, the dysfunction is caused by disagreement over how to replenish the coffers of FEMA, whose resources have been stretched thin by God's anger/an active hurricane season…
The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday on a Democratic-sponsored measure to provide $3.65 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which administers the disaster fund. But the bill is expected to fail because it does not include spending cuts demanded by Republicans.
Lawmakers expressed hope Sunday that they could reach a bipartisan agreement rather than face a repeat of the rancorous summer battle over raising the nation's debt ceiling. But negotiations are likely to continue until the 11th hour.
Since "Government Shuts-down Due to [Whatever]" is going to be an exciting fill-in-the-headline game for months to come, here's a handy guide to the latest edition of Why We Can't Have Nice Things:
How did the latest crisis begin? As Michele Bachmann jocularly explained, God sent a hurricane barreling along the Eastern seaboard as punishment for profligate government spending. Democrats responded by trying to authorize even more spending, so that FEMA could provide emergency relief to affected families while also supporting fire-ravaged Texas and tornado-tossed Missouri. To which House Majority Leader Eric Cantor responded, why would we want to further anger the Lord when we could offset emergency spending with cuts to Democratic priorities? And so Congress did its usual awesome job of doing nothing.
But Members of Congress are going to resolve this like adults, yes? You are hilarious! Senators Mark Warner and Lamar Alexander, help us set that special tone of hand-wringing about civility followed by childish recriminations…
Two veteran senators agreed Sunday morning that the latest budget standoff in Congress is not what the country needs, but the Democrat and Republican each made sure to point out that the potential government shutdown was the other party's fault…
To blame, in Warner's view: "A small group within the House, the Tea Party crowd."
Not quite, according to Alexander. "I'll give the Senate Democratic leader most of the credit," Alexander said. "He manufactured a crisis all week about disaster when there's no crisis."
So federal employees are going to be furloughed over what amounts to a rounding error in the budget? Maybe. A more likely possibility involves the Obama Administration using creative accounting to keep FEMA functioning through the end of this week, forestalling the crisis. Alternatively, enough Democrats or Republicans could cross party-lines to adopt a continuing resolution that would keep the government funded. For a month and a half.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Democrats, Eric Cantor, FEMA, House of Representatives, Lamar Alexander, Mark Warner, Natural Disasters, Republicans, Senate