U.S. Congress In Budget Impasse, As Government Shutdown Looms

Posted September 26th, 2011 at 3:59 pm (UTC-5)
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Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress are stuck once again in a budget impasse that is threatening aid for flood victims and could lead to a partial government shutdown later this week.

Senate Democrats are meeting Monday to come up with an alternative to a seven-week spending authorization passed by the Republican-controlled House and rejected by the Senate last week. The Senate Democrats need to win 60 votes to advance their short-term spending bill.

On Friday, senators blocked a Republican bill that would provide disaster relief aid and avoid a partial government shutdown. The legislation would fund the government through November 18 and include $3.65 billion for domestic disaster relief.

President Barack Obama told a town hall meeting in California Monday that ideological differences in Congress are preventing the U.S. government from solving its problems. He urged his audience in the U.S. high-tech capital, Silicon Valley, to tell Congress to act responsibly.

Senate Democrats say the Republican-backed plan failed to provide enough disaster aid. They also criticized a provision that would have cut $1.5 billion from government clean energy programs, saying the cuts would kill needed jobs.

The Senate Democrats' version of the short-term spending bill includes nearly $7 billion in disaster aid, but requires no spending offsets.

If a measure is not approved Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which allocates federal disaster relief funds to Americans, could run out of money.

For the third time this year, a partial government shutdown is possible, if Congress can not find a way to agree on a measure before Friday , which marks the end of the U.S. government fiscal year.

The House is in recess this week, and Republican leaders say they do not plan to call representatives back to Washington from their home districts.