With just five days to avert a government shutdown, congressional lawmakers have made little progress at ending a weeks-long stalemate over disaster aid.The House passed a temporary spending bill on Thursday night before leaving town for the week, which included spending cuts to green jobs programs to offset an increase in relief to communities hit by hurricanes, tornadoes, and flood this year.
The Senate version of the “continuing resolution” to fund the government into the new fiscal year beginning on Saturday offers no spending cuts, but falls within the agreed upon spending caps in the August debt ceiling deal. The upper chamber will vote on the bill at approximately 5:30 this afternoon.
Congress got a temporary reprieve today, when FEMA announced they have enough money to last through the week — the disaster aid fund was predicted to run dry as soon as today, even before the government would shut down.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticised the Republican-controlled house for leaving town, saying “it’s hard to do legislation when one part of our bicameral legislature is not here.”
Republicans say the time for negotiation is over, and that the Senate should pass the bill to make certain that those in need get federal relief.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) coined the term “the Cantor Doctrine” to criticise the GOP’s position on spending cuts, saying it amounts to “before we can provide help, we need to find an offset in the budget.”
Brad Dayspring, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s communications director, took to Twitter to rebut Landrieu’s arguments “‘The Landrieu Doctrine’ – Voting to table a bill to fund FEMA, then going to Senate floor and placing blame on people who passed that bill.”
There are currently two paths to avoid a shutdown: the House reconvenes to pass the Senate bill or the Senate approves the House version. Neither party appears likely to budge anytime soon — as they are fighting over what amounts to be just $1.6 billion in funding — about a tenth of one per cent of the federal budget.
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