Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said Sunday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has “manufactured a crisis all week” over disaster relief aid.
Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Alexander was asked if the tea party-backed House Republicans are responsible for the threat of a government shutdown.
“No, I don’t. I’ll give the Senate Democratic leader most of the credit. He manufactured a crisis all week about disaster relief when there was no crisis. Everyone knows we’ll pay every penny of disaster aid that the president declares and FEMA certifies. The House settled on a bill that would do that and the Senate should have passed it,” he said (RELATED: Senate blocks House disaster bill)
“What we should have been doing this past week is all we could so the work Senators [Mark] Warner [of Virginia] and [Saxby] Chambliss [0f Georgia] have done to reduce the debt by $4 trillion succeeds, instead of all this chest-pounding and game-playing that’s been going on.”
On Friday, the Democrat-controlled Senate blocked a bill passed by the GOP-controlled House by a vote of 59-36 that included $3.7 billion in disaster relief aid. FEMA currently faces a budget shortfall after the nation’s recent natural disasters including Tropical Storm Lee and Hurricane Irene. Democrats opposed the bill because it did not include as much money as they sought for FEMA. They also objected to the cuts Republicans proposed to fund the aid.
Alexander emphasized that the Senate should spend more time trying to reach an agreement on $4 trillion in debt reduction.
“I don’t like this business of sitting around blaming each other over such small potatoes. What we really ought to be doing is spending time to see if we can get $4 trillion in debt reduction,” he said.
“Senators Warner, Chambliss and others have rounded up 37 senators equally divided by party who agree we should do that. We’d like our super committee to succeed. If we could do that, we could begin to get the economy in better shape and gain some confidence in the country.”