The Senate advanced legislation Tuesday that would add $7 billion in emergency funds to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
That bill may be dead on arrival if it proceeds to the House of Representatives. While Democrats want it passed with no strings attached, some House Republicans say those funds should be offset by spending cuts.
Proponents of the legislation say it is necessary to address the widespread damage caused by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. FEMA’s funds were already depleted before those storms struck due to a string of tornadoes that hit the South and Midwest last spring, and near-historic flooding along the Mississippi River.
In the past, most emergency funding requests have been approved with no offsets. However, with deficit reduction the issue du jour, House Republicans, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are adamant that any additional FEMA funds must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
Cantor’s position has riled some members of his own party, though its unclear if enough House Republicans will break ranks and support additional FEMA funds without offsets.
A bipartisan coalition of 40 House members, including 12 Republicans, sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Tuesday urging them to approve the funds with no caveats. Unsurprisingly, lawmakers from that group, which calls itself the Hurricane Irene Coalition, come primarily from states hit hardest the recent storms.
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