Harry Reid and John Boehner

House Republicans still fighting disaster relief funding

Updated: The war against FEMA funding could end in a government shutdown


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Alex Pareene
September 22, 2011 1:01AM (UTC)

[UPDATED BELOW] There have been a lot of natural disasters lately, all over the country, and FEMA is basically out of money. Congress is going to appropriate more money for FEMA, probably, but Democrats want to give FEMA a few extra billion dollars than Republicans do, and Republicans want to "offset" all FEMA funding by defunding Democratic legislative priorities. (This is more about "spite" than "fiscal responsibility," in other words.) There is also the possibility that this will end in another government shutdown, because Congress refuses to do anything unless the consequences of not doing something are incredibly and immediately dire, these days.

The Republicans in the House are likely to pass a continuing resolution keeping government running for the time being that includes $3.7 billion in offset funding for disaster aid. The Senate's measure contained $6.9 billion. The latest news is that Rep. Louise Slaughter failed to get the Democratic proposal into the resolution, making it likely that either the House will fail the pass the resolution (many Republicans don't support it because it doesn't cut enough spending), increasing the risk of shutdown, or the Senate will stay in session next week and pass it with more disaster aid, forcing it back to the House, where it could fail again.

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This is a great way to fund a government, right?

I imagine that the GOP is betting that obstructionism and a potential shutdown will be blamed on "Congress," generically, and they have learned that they can absorb that hatred and turn it into voter cynicism that leads to increased support for conservatives who hate the government. Reid and the Democrats, meanwhile, will probably cave at the last second to avoid a shutdown. And everyone will say, "oh dear, what is wrong with Washington," and the answer to that question will remain "Eric Cantor."

UPDATE: Well, the other problem is "John Boehner," who is just very bad at his job. The continuing resolution failed 195-230, with Democrats holding out due to the FEMA funding mess and dozens of Republicans voting no because Boehner has no control over them.


Alex Pareene

Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at apareene@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @pareene

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