* Disaster aid will be added to must-pass spending bill
* Republicans say not interested in brinkmanship
(New throughout with Cantor, details, byline)
By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Republicans said
Monday they will try to approve disaster aid next week to
ensure that the government doesn't run out of money to help
victims of floods, tornadoes and hurricanes.
With the Federal Emergency Management Agency's
disaster-relief fund running dangerously low, top Republicans
in the House of Representatives said they will attach
additional funding to a must-pass spending bill that would keep
the government operating beyond Sept. 30.
"Thousands of homes and businesses, as well as basic
infrastructure, have been damaged by Mother Nature over the
last year, and it is the duty of my committee and this Congress
to ensure that the federal government is providing the relief
and recovery that our people are relying on," House
Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said in a prepared
President Barack Obama requested $5.1 billion last week to
help victims of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural
disasters in one of the most extreme years for weather in U.S.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency will need about
$500 million to ensure it doesn't run out of money in the next
several weeks, according to the White House.
FEMA has already suspended some payments for longer-term
projects to ensure that money remains for the more pressing
needs of victims of last month's Hurricane Irene and other
Some Republicans have suggested that they will try to
offset that money with spending cuts elsewhere, but have
emphasized that budget concerns won't delay the aid.
Republicans said they would attach the money -- between
$500 million and roughly $1 billion -- to a stopgap spending
bill that is expected to clear Congress next week.
The two chambers must pass that bill by the end of the
month to ensure that the government will be able to keep
operating when the new fiscal year starts on Oct. 1.
Budget battles have pushed the country to the edge of
default and the brink of a government shutdown this year, but
that's not likely to be the case with this spending bill, a top
"The risk of bringing about brinkmanship or another
potential shutdown is not something now that we need, it is not
something that would be helpful to create jobs and regain
confidence," said Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2
Republican in the House.
(Editing by Sandra Maler and Eric Beech)
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