Recess in Doubt as Parties Continue to Disagree on Disaster Funding
Next week’s Congressional recess could get nixed, as Senate Democrats and House Republicans remain at odds over disaster funding in a stopgap spending bill.
House Republicans have tentatively scheduled to vote on a continuing resolution late today that would provide $3.6 billion for disaster aid, of which about $1.1 billion would be offset.
Senate Democrats met tonight and pledged not to support the GOP stopgap spending bill if the House passes the measure, according to leadership aides.
“I’ll tell ya, the feeling in there is we’re fed up with this,” Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said after leaving the meeting. “They know what it takes for us to extend this CR, and keep the government in business and this brinksmanship and maybe we will and maybe we won’t, we’re tired of it.”
Congress has through Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, to act, or parts of the government could shut down. Both the House and Senate are scheduled to be in recess next week, but without an agreement on what to include in the CR the chambers might need to work into next week.
Senate Democrats argue that the House measure wouldn’t provide enough in disaster aid and oppose inclusion of any spending offsets.
The Senate-passed disaster aid measure won the support of 10 Republicans, but it is uncertain whether those GOP Senators would again vote with Democrats given the opportunity to vote for the House CR.
The offsets come from a pair of environmental loan programs, including one that funded the embattled solar panel firm Solyndra, a firm Republicans have accused the White House of improperly providing preferential treatment.
“I think those offsets are outrageous,” Durbin said. “They will cost us 50,000 jobs. America is out of work, and the Republican answer is kill jobs. That’s the only way you can pay for a disaster; I think it’s a terrible approach.”
Meanwhile, House Republican leaders were pressing their members to vote for their CR package.
Nearly 50 Republicans opposed their leaders and voted against the measure Wednesday night, saying it would spend more than agreed to under the House budget resolution. Instead, the measure adhered to spending caps included in a deal to raise the debt ceiling and enacted into law last month.
At a meeting this afternoon, Boehner told his fellow House Republicans to back the CR because it was the best deal the GOP could hope for.