Partisan disagreement over disaster relief funding stalled a short-term federal appropriations bill in the House of Representatives Wednesday afternoon, leading to yet another threat of government shutdown at the end of the month.
A continuing resolution to fund federal programs through Nov. 19 failed by a vote of 195-230, with more than 40 Republicans voting no and only five Democrats voting yes. At issue was additional funding to FEMA.
The Republican-crafted resolution included roughly $3.2 billion in FEMA funding for fiscal year 2012, but about $1.5 billion of that was offset by spending cuts to a Department of Energy loan program for manufacturers of fuel-efficient cars.
Conservative Republicans wanted deeper spending cuts, while Democrats balked at the offset. Both sides accused the other of playing politics with disaster aid.
House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called proposed cuts “without precedent” and “extraordinarily controversial from our side of the aisle.”
“Extraordinarily controversial because the message we got from America, as we were home and as we get today is we need to create jobs,” Hoyer said. “We need to grow the economy.”
Oklahoma Republican Rep. Tom Cole said Democratic objections were a “ruse to spend more money in other areas without being responsible.”
House Republican leadership must now scramble to decide whether to offer deeper cuts to appease the conservative wing of their party, or remove the offsets to garner Democratic support.
Meanwhile in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would strike the House language, if it included the offset, and replace it with the Senate’s version of the stop-gap measure, which included $6.9 billion in FEMA funding.