US & Canada

Senate deal prevents US government shutdown

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionSenate Majority Leader Harry Reid: ''Let's fight when there is something to fight about."

The US Senate has passed a resolution that provides money to fund the US government and end fears of a shutdown.

Democrats have been opposing Republican demands to offset aid for US victims of natural disasters with cuts to clean energy programmes.

The deal was reached after the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) said it had enough money to last until the end of the fiscal year on Friday.

The new funding will last until 18 November once passed by the House.

A short-term provision within the resolution allows the government to continue working until the House of Representatives, currently on break, can vote on the bill.

However, reports says the House may pass it through pro-forma vote, with only a few of the members present, before the end of the week.

The agreement appears to bring to an end the latest in a series of bipartisan disagreements that have paralysed Congress and exposed sharp differences between Republicans and Democrats.

"We've averted a disaster, until the next one," Democratic Senator Ben Nelson told Reuters news agency.


The deal emerged once Fema revealed it had the ability to continue relief operations for the rest of the week in areas hit by flooding, tornadoes and hurricanes.

In the agreement, the Democratic-controlled Senate approved a spending measure that would remove a Republican-backed $1.5bn (£1bn) budget cut to an electric-car programme.

As a compromise, Democrats offered to back a figure of $3bn for funding for disaster relief - lower than they were calling for last week, and mirroring Republican proposals.

Last Friday, the House passed the Republican version of the bill, but it was rejected by Democrats in the Senate later that day.

The deal ends the possibility of a government shutdown on 30 September.

But with most Americans saying they are unhappy with the job lawmakers are doing, the dispute is viewed as just another sign of how partisan rancour is hampering the ability of Congress to pass even the most basic legislation.

Democrats said it was unprecedented to insist that spending cuts accompany badly needed emergency aid.

Earlier, it was feared that funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) would run out on Tuesday if the bill were not passed before then.

Fema has been battling to find the cash to help those areas affected this summer by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, as well as wildfires and tornadoes.

The deadlock came as a 12-member congressional "super-committee" sets out to find $1.5tn of savings in federal spending over the next 10 years.

The committee will present its recommendations by the end of November, and Congress must vote on the proposals a month later.

More on this story