If you thought the threat of a government shutdown was eliminated through Congress’ budget agreement in April, think again. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is threatening to shutter government over a disaster aid dispute, The Hill
The House was to vote on a bill this afternoon to keep the government running after current funding expires Sept. 30. But Reid said the Senate will throw the bill back to the House if it doesn’t allocate more money for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to aid victims of Hurricane Irene, the East Coast earthquake, the Texas wildfires, and the tornado that destroyed much of Joplin, Mo.
The House bill that would fund the government through Nov. 18 includes $3.65 billion for FEMA to help the natural disaster victims. That allocation is partially offset by a $1.5 billion reduction for a Department of Energy loan program for fuel-efficient car makers.
Last week, the Senate passed a stand-alone bill giving $6.9 billion to FEMA that the House has ignored. That bill doesn’t include reductions in other programs.
Reid warned that the government could shut down if agreement isn’t reached. “We are not going to cave on this,” he told reporters Tuesday. But Republicans accuse the majority leader of playing politics.
“There’s no question that the money is going to be delivered,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor told reporters. “This is all about a political game by Harry Reid . . . No one’s intending to bring about a government shutdown. The country has sort of seen enough of that.”
The House and Senate have both scheduled vacations for next week, so there is pressure to achieve an accord by Friday.
Republican leaders vow to prevent a government shutdown. “There will not be a government shutdown,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, predicting an agreement by Thursday night.
Reid threatened to make senators stay in Washington “all next week” if a deal isn’t achieved.
Meanwhile, House Democratic leaders said Wednesday morning that their troops would vote against the Republican bill, because they are opposed to tying the FEMA authorization to a cut in the Energy Department loan program, The Hill reports.
"I expect a great majority of Democrats to be voting ‘no’ on” the continuing resolution today, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters. It’s “not because we don't want to keep the government in operations — we do — but because we believe there's an emergency, [and] the CR includes emergency money for people who need resources now."
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