Another Shutdown Avoided

It’s getting to be a little like the Boy Who Cried Wolf over on Capitol Hill. I mean, it’s hard to get all revved up about an impending government shutdown when Congress always insists on taking negotiations to the edge and they always figure out something right before the deadline.

The House of Representatives was nearly empty when three members voted "by unanimous consent" to fund the government for another few days, avoiding a shutdown. Photo: Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images

The 2011 fiscal year ends tomorrow, and up until a few minutes ago lawmakers were still fighting about funding the first few days of the next fiscal year. But the House just voted to approve the Senate’s bill to fund the government through Tuesday, at which point Congress will vote on another measure that would keep the government open through mid-November.

Actually, only three members of the House voted on the stopgap bill, because the House is in recess this week, and they were the only ones around. The session lasted five minutes.

The GOP had been insisting that money be cut from additional disaster funds inserted into the bill, or else that it be cut from another program — specifically, a Democratic favorite that gives loans to auto companies to encourage the development of green car technology. The standoff fizzled when FEMA “found” some money “under a couch cushion.”

Michigan Democrats had fought hard to protect the clean car subsidies from GOP cuts, saying the program is responsible for 40,000 jobs in their state and others.

Auto companies that receive the loans have kept auto plants in the U.S. rather than move them overseas, according to central Michigan’s Daily Tribune: “Ford elected to build its new Ford Focus in Michigan rather than Mexico and Nissan now plans to build electric vehicles in Tennessee thanks to the loans.”

There seems to be a new battle over spending cuts every couple of months, though, so if the Republicans have already given notice that they’ve got the auto loan program in their sights, don’t expect the issue to go away too quickly.