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GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN AVOIDED AGAIN

Washington, DC -- Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY-17) voted for the Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 16.  The package contains the first three completed appropriations measures for FY 2012: Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD.  The Joint House-Senate Conference Committee approved funding for the appropriations measures at levels higher than the original House-passed versions, but lower than levels proposed by President Obama.

Combined, the three bills provide about $128 billion in discretionary spending subject to the cap set by the Budget Control Act enacted in August.  It also contains transportation spending in the TIGER program (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) which provides grants to local projects improving infrastructure, as well as funding to Amtrak.  The CR also has$2.3 billion in emergency disaster relief that is exempt from the discretionary cap. 

“Once again we have avoided shutting the government down, although we will yet again have to go through this same process in December – just in time for the holidays.  All it does is provide yet another unnecessary deadline where the Tea Party-led Republican House Majority can irresponsibly lead our country to the brink of another fiscal disaster.  There is no reason the current CR should have expired this week, knowing full well the Super Committee was reporting next week.  It is another way for them to artificially influence the market to approach a potential double-dip recession, something which could be politically advantageous to them.  It is time to stop playing politics, and time to start governing.  This constant specter of shutdown and default has to stop, and I call on my colleagues to work with Democrats to find a long-term compromise to our nation’s budget and lessen the uncertainty surrounding our economy,” said Rep. Engel.

The 12-term Congressman called for these appropriations agreements to be a springboard to a comprehensive surface transportation bill.  “I repeat my call that House leaders need to come together for a robust, long-term extension to improve the nation’s infrastructure and put more Americans back to work.  Our nation’s bridges and highways are literally falling apart.  A robust transportation bill could be a golden opportunity to invest in America, and our people,” said Rep. Engel.

The Congressman also expressed satisfaction that ample funds for disaster relief were included.  “Real families in communities across several states – including my own constituents in the Bronx, Rockland and Westchester Counties – are suffering from damages caused by floods, hurricanes, tornados and other disasters.  National Republicans were playing games for too long with relief funds, and I am glad to see they have stopped that insanity,” said Rep. Engel.

He added, “We have proven with this CR and spending bills that we are capable of working together and doing the responsible thing for the American people.  We must continue to build upon that, especially by working on legislation putting Americans back to work.  The end of 2011 looms on the horizon, and there has not been a single jobs bill debated, much less passed by the House.  That has to end, and I call on the Majority to work with us in helping these families get back on their feet.”

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