Democrats and Republicans blamed each other for the latest battle over government funding today, even as they acknowledged a third showdown over a government shutdown does not look good for Congress.
Sen. Mark Warner said it’s “embarrassing” that Congress is involved in another standoff over government funding.
“Can we once again inflict on the country and the American people the spectacle of a near government shutdown? I sure as heck hope not,” the Virginia Democrat said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Congress has through Friday to pass a continuing resolution or the government will run out of money. The House passed a CR on Thursday, but the Senate voted the measure down Friday. Democrats oppose the House bill, in part, because it offsets about $1.1 billion of $3.6 billion in Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster funding. The offsets come from green jobs programs Democrats don’t want cut.
Senate Democrats have proposed passing a measure that doesn’t include the offsets, but it is not clear whether they have the votes. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would need at least seven Republicans to help him reach a filibuster-proof 60 votes, assuming all Democrats support the proposal. That key procedural vote is scheduled for Monday evening.
Even if the bill does pass, it’s unclear whether House Republican leaders will take it up given they have adjourned the chamber for a scheduled weeklong recess in an effort to force the Senate to pass their bill.
Warner blamed tea party-inspired conservatives in the House for the impasse.
“There is a group, and I do believe it is centered in the House in terms of some of these tea party Republicans, who say on every issue, ‘We’re going to make this a make or break,’” Warner said.
But Sen. Lamar Alexander, on the same program, said the onus of the current showdown is on Reid.
“I’ll give the Senate Democratic leader most of the credit,” the Tennessee Republican said. “He’s manufactured a crisis all week about disaster, when there’s no crisis.”
Alexander said there’s no question that emergency aid will be provided to states that have experienced natural disasters this year, adding that the House offset is reasonable to help make sure the disaster funds do not add to the debt or deficit.
But Warner countered that emergency disaster aid should not have to be offset, noting that the war in Iraq was not offset with cuts to other government programs.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, speaks with reporters in the Capitol after a speech on the Senate floor that accused the CIA of searching computers set up for Congressional staff for their research of interrogation programs.