Both Sides Claim Vindication After Shutdown Is Averted
As some last-minute developments and a late-evening deal came together to bring another shutdown showdown to a close last night, Democratic and Republican leaders were both declaring their positions in the latest budget battle had been vindicated.
As NPR's David Welna reported on Morning Edition, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) "opened the Senate session [last evening] heaping scorn on the [Republican-controlled] House" for, in his mind, causing the latest dispute. And after announcing a deal to avert a shutdown, Reid declared the agreement is "a win for everyone" because it preserved money for programs that Democrats support while also funding disaster relief operations at the level preferred by Republicans.
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the whole argument — which had centered on how to get the Federal Emergency Management Agency about $1 billion because its coffers were supposedly running dry — just underscored why Republicans had been insisting that any such funds be accounted for, and paid for with offsetting budget cuts.
The news that clinched a deal to keep the government open past Friday was word that FEMA really didn't need that $1 billion before the end of this week. That was "a vindication of what Republicans have been saying all along," McConnell said. "Before we spend the taxpayers' money we should have a real accounting — a real accounting — of what is actually needed."
"This entire fire drill was completely and totally unnecessary," McConnell said.
Here's how The Associated Press explains what happened last night:
"A bitterly divided and poll-battered Congress has nearly worked its way out of a nasty fight over disaster aid, but only by abruptly abandoning efforts to immediately refill almost empty federal disaster relief accounts.
"Instead, with the administration assuring lawmakers that the immediate infusion of $1 billion in disaster money wasn't needed to avoid a cutoff this week, Senate leaders moved quickly Monday to jettison the money from a pending Democratic measure and instead pass bare-bones legislation to avert a government shutdown at week's end.
"That measure, approved by the Senate on a 79-12 vote [with nine senators not voting], would keep the government running until mid-November. The House appears likely to endorse that measure next week when it returns from a weeklong recess."
Politico sums up the agreement this way:
"The new plan — which won prompt Senate approval on a series of floor votes — relies on enacting a short-term spending bill to keep agencies funded into early next week and having both parties put aside their differences on 2011 disaster funds since the fiscal year is almost over in any case."