SHUTDOWN SHOWDOWN: Congress Squares Off Over Disaster Aid

Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

The Senate rejected the House funding measure to avert a shutdown Friday morning, setting off a high-stakes game of political showmanship with one week until the government runs out of money.In mostly party-line vote, the upper chamber tabled the House bill, which would have funded the government into the next fiscal year which begins on October 1.

Democrats in the Senate said the bill did not include enough money for FEMA, and objected to the $1.6 billion in spending cuts to offset the additional disaster aid.

In a statement Thursday night, Reid criticised the House continuing resolution as “not an honest effort at compromise.”

“It fails to provide the relief that our fellow Americans need as they struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of floods, wildfires and hurricanes, and it will be rejected by the Senate,” he said.

In a press conference during the Senate vote, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said there is “no reason that Harry Reid is holding this up other than politics.”

Speaker of the House John Boehner added that said he spoke with Reid, but admitted that “not much progress made.”

Congress is set to begin a week-long vacation this this afternoon, and only Reid has said he will be willing to keep lawmakers in Washington through the weekend to continue negotiations to prevent a shutdown and a lapse in disaster aid.

The disaster relief account will run out of money as soon as Monday, according to lawmakers, and Cantor said the House will get out of town for the weekend, adding “If we are back [next week], that means Harry Reid has shut down FEMA.”

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