Senate Votes Down House Disaster Aid Bill

The Senate voted Friday to reject House-passed legislation to extend disaster aid and government funding, setting up an impasse that could threaten a government shutdown.

The Senate voted, 59-36, to table the $3.7 billion disaster and stopgap spending bill to keep the government running past next Friday, effectively rejecting the package which the GOP-dominated House had approved in the early hours of Friday morning.

Democrats made good on an earlier pledge to defeat the package favored by Republicans, forcing each side to reconsider its options before a planned weeklong recess.The Senate was set to next vote early Monday evening on a new Democratic-led proposal.

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said that he had spoken with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., shortly before Friday's Senate vote, with little effect.

"There wasn't much progress made," the Republican Speaker said.

Friday morning's events promise to push the partisan war into the weekend and could increase the chances that the government's main disaster aid account at the Federal Emergency Management Agency might run dry early next week.

Additionally, unless Congress acts by midnight next Friday, much of the government will shut down. More immediate is the threat that the government's main disaster aid account will run out of money early next week.

The House was set to adjourn Friday for a weeklong break that would essentially prevent lawmakers from approving any final deal that would be negotiated. Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who sets the House schedule, have said it is the Senate's responsibility to act on the disaster aid bill, setting up a possible game of brinksmanship between the two chambers.

Reid, speaking on the Senate floor shortly following the vote, scheduled a vote on a new measure for Monday afternoon; Republicans pushed unsuccessfully for an immediate vote. The weekend time span would give leaders in both parties time to negotiate a potential compromise.

More broadly, the renewed partisanship over what should be routine moves to help disaster victims and prevent a government shutdown sends a discouraging sign as a bitterly divided Washington looks ahead to more significant debates on President Barack Obama's jobs plan and efforts by a congressional supercommittee to slash deficits.

Republicans argue their package is responsible, and provides more than adequate amounts of disaster relief funding. Democrats want a much larger infusion of disaster aid and they're angry over cuts totaling $1.6 trillion from clean energy programs — and the strong-arm tactics being tried by the House.
Story: Disaster aid bill fails in Republican-led House

Thursday's maneuvering in the House started as Republicans controlling the House moved to resurrect the disaster aid package after an embarrassing loss on Wednesday.

Instead of reaching out to Democrats, House GOP leaders looked to persuade wayward Tea Party Republicans to change their votes and help approve the assistance — and try to force Senate Democrats into a corner with little choice but to accept cuts to clean energy programs they favor. One sweetener for conservatives was to add $100 million in savings from a program that financed a federal loan to the now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra Inc.

Republicans had hoped that once the House passed the measure, Senate Democrats would have had little choice but to accept it, especially with lawmakers eager to escape Washington for a weeklong recess. The move instead infuriated Democrats, who felt GOP leaders were trying to "jam" them into accepting the GOP bill.

The battling came as the stock market absorbed heavy losses and pessimism about the economy deepened. The arguing was reminiscent of the poisonous atmosphere of this summer rather than lawmakers' more recent promises to work together to find common ground where possible.

Time is running short for disaster victims.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Thursday that the government's main disaster aid account is "running on fumes" and could be tapped out as early as early next week. She called on Congress to quickly resolve the problem or risk delays in getting disaster projects approved.

"We have stretched this as far as it can go," Napolitano told The Associated Press as she flew to Joplin, Mo., to view tornado damage. "We are scraping the bottom of the barrel."

As of Thursday morning, there was just $212 million in the FEMA's disaster relief fund. The House measure contains $3.7 billion in disaster aid, mostly for the FEMA fund. A rival Senate measure muscled through that chamber last week by Reid — with the help of 10 Republicans — would provide $6.9 billion.

The drama and battling over disaster aid and stopgap spending is unusual. Such measures usually pass routinely since the alternative is shutting down much of the government and denying help to victims of floods, hurricanes and other disasters.

What is more, the House GOP plan won bipartisan support in June when it passed as part of a broader homeland security spending bill. And the $3.7 billion in House aid would provide sufficient help while lawmakers work out a broader spending bill for the 2012 budget year beginning Oct. 1.

Senate Democrats are instead insisting on fully funding most disaster aid programs as part of the stopgap measure, an unusual move.

The current imbroglio illustrates the difficulty lawmakers are sure to have when trying to address tougher problems. The toughest task confronts the so-called supercommittee, which is supposed to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in deficit savings over the coming decade to implement the August budget and debt pact.

The panel had its third public meeting Thursday, again exposing differences between Republicans and Democrats on taxes. The panel has until Thanksgiving to produce legislation — and there's no sign yet of much progress toward agreement.

Before this week's eruption, the Senate had had an unusually productive week. For example, it voted Thursday to help American workers who fall victim to foreign competition. The move to renew expired portions of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which provides retraining and financial support for workers adversely affected by trade, sets the stage for Obama to submit trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.


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  • by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:42 PM
    RepubliCAN'Ts have done nothing but make things worse with their arrogance and ignorance. They have done a worse job than the Democraps have ever done. I will be voting for the lesser of two evils.
    • reply
      by Obama snake Oil co on Sep 25, 2011 at 02:16 PM in reply to
      Well, as they say...anybody but Obama...you gettin it? The rest of us have. You rich wealthy people that supported Obama...ran the country into the ground while you made money....you livin a lie dude!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 26, 2011 at 08:27 AM in reply to Obama snake Oil co
        The country has been on a course for disaster since Regan was elected, this isn't any one particular persons fault and you're quite honestly simply ignorant if you think otherwise.
  • by Ben on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:58 AM
    It is tragically amusing that some of you still don't realize what Obama and his progressive cabinet and tsars are deliberatley doing to this economy. In his election victory speech Obama said, "We are going to fundamentally change this country." Destroying capitalism and replacing it with European style socialism has been his ultimate goal since day one. He hasn't mismanaged the economy out of economic ignorance -- it's all part of his plan to bankrupt America. If he succeeds, America as we know it will no longer exist.
  • by Please Location: enc on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:34 AM
    Please learn something! The "cuts" proposed by the GOP are to American car companies for parts for new energy efficient cars!! It will cost 10,000 in jobs!! This is not for "foreign" companies or any other lie you have heard. It will hit a part of our manufacturing that is just now getting on its feet! Again, this has NEVER been a requirement for disaster aid before! This is the same tactic used during the debt ceiling fiasco and was not suppose to ever happen again! Now that the GOP doesn't have a debt ceiling to hold hostage-they are holding disaster funds!!
    • reply
      by Party of Clowns on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:48 PM in reply to Please
      You can't teach old dogs new tricks.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:58 PM in reply to Please
      It will cost us 10,000 jobs?
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil Co on Sep 25, 2011 at 05:19 AM in reply to Please
      We know their track record of saving companies...Solyndra, 1/2 billion and not talking about where it went. Sorry, the dems spent a wad of money on things we didn't need and didn't create even one job.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 26, 2011 at 08:29 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
        Why do you hate the Constitution of the United States of American, OSOC?
  • by jb Location: onslow on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:50 AM
    totally disgusted with congress,more than obama.when will they get it together and auctually earn their money?just think how much money we pay them to sit up there and bicker,if they were in a real world they be fired,but that ain't gonna happen.i often wonder how much money we give away to other countries?staggering ,i imagine...best not get me started on my soapbox about waste in our country.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 08:48 AM in reply to jb
      Not just them but their huge staff, and all the other perks that go with the so called job.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:32 PM in reply to jb
      Are you referring to the GOP controlled Congress with the 12% approval ratings? Are you happy with the Shellacking in 2110? And you want to put more control of this country in the hands of these GOP/Tea Clowns?
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Sep 25, 2011 at 05:21 AM in reply to
        Yes we do! We have seen how much spending is required by democrats...we are now 14 trillion in debt and the stock market is even feelin it. Yeah, we will take our changes with the ever more popular GOP rather than the ever so unpopular DEMs.
  • by Dawg on Sep 24, 2011 at 04:46 AM
    Some of the green companies being helped are not even American Companies. And what about the ones that are taking the money and going under, not such a good way to invest our money. There would have been money if these companies had not been helped in the first place. $500 million would have gone a long way to helping people durning a disaster, but that money is gone along with the promised jobs. Yep lets just keep throwing money away like this instead of helping our own that need it most right now, NOT.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 08:57 AM in reply to Dawg
      And the Democrats are the ones to blame.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:34 PM in reply to
        The Republicans are the party of NO job creation. Their motto is "Job Cremation not Creation."
    • reply
      by To DAWG on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:35 AM in reply to Dawg
      Wrong! This is for car manufacturers here in the US and will cost 10,000 jobs!!
  • by Tyrone Location: Greenville on Sep 24, 2011 at 04:34 AM
    Why are we subsidising Green Energy Companies? The taxpayers in this country are revolting against the politicians who just want to spend spend spend.
    • reply
      by To Tyrone on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:37 AM in reply to Tyrone
      This includes 1.5 Billions in aid to our car factories! It is for parts to build "greener cars" and will cost 10,000 jobs! Why is the GOP doing this? They WANT UNemployment HIGH! They want to defeat Obama as any cost!! You still don't get it?
      • reply
        by Tyrone on Sep 24, 2011 at 11:28 AM in reply to To Tyrone
        So you think that it is alright to bail out the car companies with our tax money? This is all about supporting the unions for re-election. How many times do we bail them out? Let the free market work without all the government intervention.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:38 PM in reply to Tyrone
          So it was OK for Wall Street?, The ones who helped start the whole mess, and then got huge Tax Breaks, and loopholes to generate record setting profits and CEO bonuses?
  • by Obama Snake Oil Co Location: Washington on Sep 24, 2011 at 04:04 AM
    So the democrats in the senate voted down the disaster relief bill...did you get that Barlow? All the scraping in the litterbox will not cover it up Barlow, they did it. As you post your typical diversionary wisdom, we know who voted it down and as usual, you cannot defend it.
    • reply
      by Barlow on Sep 24, 2011 at 08:21 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
      What they voted down was a typical crap Repug bill with half the relief aid needed and a provision in there to kill jobs. Repugs do this because they know that people who do not know what they are talking about, yourself for instance, will blame the Democrats when it is just once AGAIN Repugs cutting aid from those who need it most.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil Co on Sep 25, 2011 at 05:28 AM in reply to Barlow
        I blame the dems, Reid and Pelosi for all the spending they did in the name of change. 5.4 trillion added to the debt and they didn't blink an eye. Somehow, you think that doesn't involve you or affect you, however, you are wrong. If someone were to tell you they spent 1000% more than they would earn for the rest of their life....you wouldn't have a problem with that? Sorry, old school, if you don't have it, you don't spend it. The car companies still owe us billions of dollars and now they need another bail out....for green cars? I am hoping you have you Chevy Volt by now for over 40k price tag. Too bad they cannot sell them since no one wants them. Like solyndra, you can only polish a terd for so long....
    • reply
      by To osoc on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:38 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
      Right, they sure did! Maybe they are finally getting back bones and will not be "blackmailed" by the House GOP any more! The GOP wants this "disaster aid" to cost 10,000 jobs!!!
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:42 PM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
      The GOP also wanted to cut social security and medicare funding to pay for the relief bill. How about cutting some of that money spent on contractors overseas? Dick Cheney will have another heart attack if it happened, War=big bucks for in the pocket contractors.
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Sep 24, 2011 at 02:27 AM
    Once again, those who need help most will suffer. Maybe the "job creators" will help rebuild? Nope, no profit in helping someone who has lost their home. Maybe that rich man you work for will help? Don't hold your breath. Some things are so big only the federal government has the ability to do. It is WHY there is government. The republicans not only cut the amount of disaster aid in the bill, they stuck a provision in to stop LOANS for green jobs here in America. It seems that now, after they left the Bush administation borrow billions with no accountability they want EVERYTHING paid for, except those tax breaks for the very rich, of course.
    • reply
      by dave on Sep 24, 2011 at 04:59 AM in reply to Barlow
      amen brother got to have those tax breaks for the rich folks. bush spent money like a drunk sailor on shore leave but debt didnt matter then.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 08:47 AM in reply to dave
        Bush may have spent like a drunken sailor but Obama is spending like 100 drunken sailors.
        • reply
          by To Anon on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:41 AM in reply to
          You obviously don't know what you are talking about! Obama has not spent more than Bush-but less! Americans are starting to look at facts and they are finding out that just because you claim it-don't make it so!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 06:47 PM in reply to
          Tell me what happened to the surplus that Clinton left Bush? BTW what happened to the pallets of trillions of dollars seized from Saddam Hussein along with all that gold? Tax breaks for the wealthy with no return? And you say Obama was spending like a drunken sailor? Try again...
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 08:55 AM in reply to Barlow
      First of all, the Democrats "green jobs" bill should not even be attached to the FEMA funding bill. What does green jobs have to do with disaster relief funds? Nothing. You know as well as I do that if FEMA ran out of the proposed funds, there would be another bill sent to Congress for further funding and it would be passed. The first time, the Democrat held military pay as hostage, now they are using disaster relief funds as hostage and you liberals are sticking with them and saying that the Republicans are at fault here. We dont need "green jobs" we just need jobs period, why dont we get our feet back underneath us before we go spending millions of dollars to make cars more fuel efficient. Have the Democrats even said how many jobs this will create? I would have to think that it would be very little.
      • reply
        by To anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 09:40 AM in reply to
        This isn't just "green jobs"! It is to auto makers and will cost us 10,000 jobs! But, then the GOP's goal is to keep unemployment high!!!
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Sep 24, 2011 at 10:06 PM in reply to To anonymous
          It is for auto makers to make more fuel efficient cars. Didnt we bail them out once already? Why dont they use the money they still own back to the government and do it themselves? Where do you get this 10,000 jobs crap? It is the DNC's job to tell everyone that they are trying to create jobs, when they havent had any good plans yet and then blame it on the Republicans.
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