Five days before the start of the new fiscal year, Congress has yet to reach an agreement on fiscal year (FY) 2012 spending. Democrats and Republicans are struggling to reach a deal to keep the federal government open for the next few weeks until Congress completes its work on FY 2012 appropriations.

Enactment of a Continuing Resolution to temporarily fund the government has been held up by disagreement between the chambers over disaster relief funding. At issue is how much to spend on recovery aid to states hit hard by natural disasters and whether or not that expense should be offset by spending reductions elsewhere.

House Republicans are pushing for $3.65 billion in disaster funding and $1.5 billion in offsets by cutting a Department of Energy loan program that helps automakers develop more fuel efficient vehicles. Senate Democrats are proposing $7 billion for disaster funding without any offsets, since Congress has not offset these expenditures in the past.

The House of Representatives narrowly passed a Continuing Resolution last week to keep the government open through 18 November 2011. The legislation would reduce spending for most agencies by 1.4 percent from current levels. The Senate rejected the bill on 23 September and is expected to vote on an amended version of the bill Monday evening, which would remove the Energy program offsets, but accept the House’s figure for disaster funding.


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