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Senate Deal Avoids Government Shutdown

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Federal workers can breathe easy now that a deal’s been reached to keep the government funded after Friday. 

The Senate passed a bipartisan deal Monday that averts a government shutdown, which would have started this weekend. The approved bill provides $2.65 billion in disaster relief funding for FEMA.

Since the House is out of session and will not be able to vote on the deal until next week, the Senate also passed a continuing resolution that will fund the government until next Tuesday, when the House returns. One senator likened the last minute deal to a "magic trick."

If the House passes the agreements, the government will only be funded through the middle of November, setting the stage for another battle this fall over funding the government. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) says it's unfair that politicians are playing politics with the federal workforce in the region. 

“It’s very frustrating to see for the federal workers -- the people who actually do the work -- be blamed for the problems created by policy makers and the flawed problems of the Bush Administration," Mikulski says.

This current budget fight hinged on whether to pay for emergency funding immediately after a disaster or to pay for it down the road. Maryland’s other Democratic Senator, Ben Cardin, says later this fall Republicans need to give the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the billions of dollars it needs without debating how to pay for it up front. 

“Historically, as you know, we haven’t had offsets on true emergencies. We’ve made good faith estimates; when we exceed that, we provide the funding," she says. "And now in our budget agreement we’ve also allowed for that, so I would hope that there would be no further discussion about offsets for emergency spending.” 

Republicans argue in a time of austerity the government needs to prioritize its spending, and they say funding disasters trumps other government programs. 

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