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Tony Carr carries his children's toys from his home, which was destroyed by the floods caused by Hurricane Irene on Sept. 1, in Prattsville, N.Y. (MONIKA GRAFF/GETTY IMAGES)
Tony Carr carries his children's toys from his home, which was destroyed by the floods caused by Hurricane Irene on Sept. 1, in Prattsville, N.Y. (MONIKA GRAFF/GETTY IMAGES)

U.S. Senate reaches deal to avoid government shutdown Add to ...

The U.S. Senate reached a deal on Monday to avert a government shutdown and make billions of dollars of aid available to victims of recent disasters.

The complex deal would end a standoff that has threatened disaster aid for thousands of Americans and imperilled government operations for the third time this year.

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The resolution is not likely to quell concerns that Congress is unable to pass even basic legislation without a fight and lacks the stomach for tougher budget decisions in the coming months.

Republican and Democratic legislators had been deadlocked over whether additional budget cuts were needed to offset the additional disaster aid needed to help those displaced by one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S. history.

Earlier on Monday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said its dwindling disaster fund could probably last until the end of the week, several days longer than previously thought.

That allowed Democrats and Republicans to drop their fight over how to pay for the additional aid.

The Democratic-controlled Senate was expected to approve a measure that would keep the government running on a temporary basis through Nov. 18, giving legislators enough time to finalize their spending bills for the fiscal year that starts on Oct. 1.

That measure includes $2.65-billion (U.S.) for FEMA’s disaster fund, which would be available on Saturday. FEMA’s fund could run out before then, but the disruption would only last for a few days.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives would have to approve the bill as well, but it is out of town on a week-long break. So the deal includes a separate, short-term bill that would fund the government until the House returns.

The House could approve the short-term deal this week, before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

Budget battles took the government to the brink of a shutdown in April and the edge of default in August, prompting a first-ever downgrade of the country’s AAA credit rating.

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