Budget deal could temporarily avert government shutdown

Sequestration could still make a return, harming the Hampton Roads region.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVEC) -- President Trump and Congressional leadership agreed to pass more than $7 billion in aid for Hurricane Harvey, to extend the debt limit, and to OK a continuing resolution to fund the government until December.

So the immediate threat of a government shutdown appears to be diminishing.

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Defense spending alone accounts for 37 percent of the Hampton Roads regional economic output. Wednesday's moves could buy three months for Washington to try to solve problems, like the debt ceiling and a long-term budget.

One of Congress' most basic functions is to fund the government every year, and the clock is ticking: the next fiscal year starts in three and a half weeks, on October 1.

If Congress doesn't do something, departments controlled by the federal government could shut down.

The last time there was a shutdown in 2013, it was big news for Hampton Roads. 21,000 civil servants were furloughed, and the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission estimated it cost the region $6.3 million per day in lost income, for each of the 13 days of the shutdown.

"The President has said that he wants to shut down the government unless he get his [Mexican border] wall constructed," said Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-Virginia 3rd District). "The Republican leadership in the House and Senate have just said that's not going to happen. We'll debate the issues, but we'll just not be shutting down the government."

Scott says even if there is no shutdown, we're not out of the woods yet.

"We still have a challenge on sequestration, because whatever we pass in appropriations, if the numbers aren't straight in January, sequestration kicks in and across-the-board cuts get applied, and this area will be one of the worst hit," he said.

Some Republicans object to the idea of linking Harvey relief money to the debt ceiling issue. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the plan "ridiculous" and "disgraceful."