The dysfunction in Congress continues. Democrats and Republicans are embroiled in another budget face-off that may result in the first federal government shutdown since 1996. The latest potential crisis was triggered Wednesday after the House of Representatives voted down a temporary measure to fund the government into the next fiscal year.
Late this morning Speaker of the House John Boehner tried to quash the notion of another budget impasse. "There's no threat of a government shutdown," he said.
At the heart of the issue is funding for disaster relief. Democrats are calling for $6.9 billion for FEMA's relief fund, but the GOP is only willing to pay $3.65 billion and want the rest of the funding to be offset by spending cuts in other programs. Without more funding FEMA will run out of money as early as Monday.
As Aaron and Henry discuss in the accompanying clip, we're all for smarter spending in the halls of Congress, but shutting down the government over more than $3 billion, which, by the way, goes to help towns and people recover from the floods, hurricanes, fires, that have ravaged the country this summer, seems absurd. In the grand scheme of the budget the sum is a rounding error.
If this feels like deja vu that's because it is. Congress faced a similar scenario in April and then again in August with the debt ceiling-debate debacle. After that shining example of leadership, Congress agreed on an amount of spending but have since failed to nail down how the money is to be spent. If Washington can't get its act together and pass a budget by agreeing to a new six-week "continuing resolution," then the federal government runs out of money on October 1, triggering a shutdown.