The Democratically controlled Senate has passed a $7 billion emergency disaster relief measure, with the help of eight Republicans who defied the GOP leadership, The Washington Post reported
“We can spend hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s spend a small amount of money to rebuild America for Americans,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., said, according to the Post. Vermont suffered severe damage as a result of flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.
The measure passed on a vote of 62 to 37. It faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled House, which is expected to take up a government funding measure next week. That bill contains $3.65 billion for disaster relief.
House leaders said the Senate measure is designed to score political points and exceeds the White House’s $5.1 billion request for the Federal Emergency Management Administration, the Post reported.
The House proposal would offset a portion of the FEMA funds with a $1.5 billion cut from other programs. “What we’re trying to do is finally face facts,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said according to the Post. “We in this body and in this chamber must stop the government from spending money it does not have.”
Senate Democrats maintain that coupling disaster funding to spending cuts fails to take into account the magnitude of this year’s disasters.
FEMA’s disaster relief fund is down to $350 million as a result of the many storms, fires, tornadoes and earthquakes that have occurred this year, the Post reported.
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