U.S. lawmakers are flirting with the possibility of a partial government shutdown by the end of this week – and watching the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief funds run dry as early as Monday – as they fight over new spending legislation. Here's a look at this and other stories that CNN plans to follow this week:
Congress faces deadlines to stop shutdown, keep FEMA funded
Both chambers of Congress must agree on new spending legislation to avoid a partial government shutdown after the close of the current fiscal year on Friday. Late last week, legislation that passed the GOP-controlled House was rejected in the Democratic-controlled Senate, in part because Democrats opposed spending cuts that House Republicans championed.
The legislation also is needed to replenish FEMA's disaster relief fund, which will be relied on to help states hit hard by Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and a series of recent wildfires and tornadoes. FEMA could run out of funds as early as Monday, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.
FEMA says that if the fund runs out, the agency would shut down disaster recovery and assistance operations until Congress gives it money. Reid said he would push for a new vote Monday on a compromise package.
This is the third time this year that the country has come to the brink of a shutdown. Legislators nearly forced Washington to start closing its doors in mid-April and again during a debt-ceiling fight in August.
Eyes on Europe debt crisis
With concerns about the sovereign debt of Greece and some other European nations upsetting financial markets around the world, Germany's parliament on Thursday is expected to take a critical vote on a second Greek bailout and an overhaul of a fund meant to help struggling European Union nations.
"We lived in a world of lies and false hope," said Josh Fattal, an American who on Sunday described his and fellow hiker Shane Bauer's two years in solitary confinement in an Iranian prison as "the worst experience of our lives."
"They told us ... falsely that we would be given due process and access to our lawyer," Fattal said. "The most infuriating, they even told us that our families had stopped writing us."
Fattal said he and Bauer did not know they would be freed when guards at the prison led them - not blindfolded back to their small solitary cells as had been customary - but instead to a room downstairs to get fingerprinted and get their street clothes.
Then, they were brought to a room where they met Salem al-Ismaily, the envoy of Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said. The first thing that al-Ismaily said to the two, according to Fattal, was: "Let's go home."FULL STORY