Stop avoided; Congress approves provisional budget plan

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Lawmakers avoided triggering a government shutdown on Friday with an emergency budget extension approved just hours before federal funding expired.

The move prevents workers’ leave and program closures in the departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs and other government agencies that are expected to begin on October 1, the start of fiscal 2022. The military should have continued to work in closed, but their paychecks could have been delayed without the funding solution.

Federal officials had spent the last few days preparing workers for the possibility of a shutdown, posting notices about which offices would close and which would remain open under an emergency clearance.

The budget extension runs until Dec. 3, giving Congress nine more weeks to pass a comprehensive budget plan for the military, Virginia, and other departments.

It continues to spend at FY2021 funding levels for this period, meaning that some new programs and initiatives will not be able to start until a full budget deal is reached.

Defense officials have complained about such delays in recent years, as continued budget resolutions to start the new fiscal year have become the norm. For example, the military has provided $ 120.6 million in new housing projects around the world. But because these specific plans weren’t included in the FY2021 budget, officials can’t begin most of this work until the FY2022 budget is finalized.

Plans for a defense budget of around $ 740 billion for FY2022 have moved forward in both chambers, but it will take weeks of negotiations to be finalized.

Likewise, lawmakers have already offered their support for a $ 270 billion VA budget bill for the next fiscal year, but will need to finalize the details before the plans become law.

On Thursday, ahead of his chamber’s approval of the budget extension, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., hailed the move as a “good result” for the country.

“With so much going on here in Washington, the last thing the American people need is for the government to shut down,” he said.

The budget extension includes an additional $ 6.3 billion to support Afghan evacuees, including to cover housing costs and security checks for evacuees at U.S. facilities in the United States and in foreign countries.

It also contains an additional $ 565 million for repairs to Navy facilities that were damaged by natural disasters in 2020 and 2021, and an additional $ 330 million for Air Force locations with similar repair needs.

Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, DC since 2004, focusing on policies relating to military personnel and veterans. His work has earned him numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk Award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism Award, and the VFW News Media Award.

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