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Senate averts FAA shutdown, approves $7 billion disaster aid plan

WASHINGTON — Senate leaders struck a last-minute deal Thursday to avert the second partial shutdown of the Federal Aviation Administration in as many months.

A bill that extended funding for the FAA and for highway and transit projects bogged down unexpectedly this week when Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., objected to a mandate that states spend 10 percent of their federal funding on landscaping, pedestrian safety and bike paths.

Under a compromise reached Thursday night, Senate leaders promised Coburn that the mandate would be dropped from a long-term highway funding bill expected next year.

Once he was appeased, the Senate approved the extension bill, ending the threat of another partial shutdown of the FAA at midnight today.

DEFENSE SPENDING: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $513 billion bill that freezes defense spending at this year's amount. The vote was 30-0 on Thursday. The bill represents a cut of $26 billion from President Barack Obama's request for the Pentagon in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Meanwhile, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday that if lawmakers fail to agree on debt-ceiling talks and trigger $1 trillion in Pentagon budget cuts, they could add 1 percent to the nation's jobless rate.

disaster aid: The Senate approved a $7 billion bill to replenish nearly empty federal disaster aid accounts. The vote was 62-37. The legislation still faces opposition from Republicans controlling the House. They promise action on a competing plan in the House next week that would provide $3.7 billion in aid.

Senate averts FAA shutdown, approves $7 billion disaster aid plan 09/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 10:54pm]
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