REVERSAL ON STOPGAP BUDGET: Voting 219 for and 203 against, the House on Sept. 23 reversed its vote of two days earlier (above) and passed a bill (HR 2608) to fund the entire government through Nov. 18 and provide $3.65 billion in disaster aid. The reversal occurred because 24 conservative Republicans, most of them aligned with the tea party, switched positions at the urging of GOP leaders.
The bill was still disputed by Democrats because about $1 billion of the aid would be offset by cuts in a federal loan program that has been creating tens of thousands of jobs while increasing the energy-efficiency of U.S. automobiles. Advocates said the cuts would affect only unobligated balances.
David Dreier, R-Calif., said the bill “is identical to the measure that we considered” two days earlier and must be passed because “we don’t want the government to shut down. We want to make sure that the people who are truly in need are able to have the resources necessary.”
Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., said: “When it comes to spending billions of dollars on two wars that are bankrupting us, the (Republicans’) concern for spending is nowhere to be found. ...When it comes to helping women, children, and families whose homes have been washed away, the majority has decided they just can’t help unless they get to take the money from a program that has created 39,000 jobs.”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.
Voting yes: None
Voting no: Olver, Neal, McGovern, Frank, Tsongas, Tierney, Markey, Capuano, Lynch, Keating
Not voting: None
STOPGAP BUDGET, DISASTER AID: Voting 79 for and 12 against, the Senate on Sept. 26 sent the House a bill (HR 2608) to fund federal agencies at fiscal 2011 levels for the first seven weeks of fiscal 2012, from Oct. 1 through Nov. 18. The stopgap funding is needed because Congress has not yet enacted any of the 12 appropriations measures that fund the executive, legislative and judicial branches.
The bill includes $2.65 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to distribute over the seven weeks to areas damaged by hurricanes, flooding, tropical storms, wildfires and the Mid-Atlantic earthquake. The FEMA aid is not offset by cuts in other programs in keeping with congressional precedent that disaster aid should be rushed as emergency spending to those in need, not delayed by partisan disputes.
All 56 members of the Democratic caucus and 23 Republicans supported the bill. When the House takes up the bill early next week, the issue of whether to require disaster aid to be offset by spending cuts will be debated anew.
Mary Landrieu, D-La., said: “It is easy to generalize and say our government spends too much money and needs to cut all government programs. Then a tornado wipes out Joplin, Mo., or a hurricane called Irene slams into the East Coast destroying countless homes and lives in Vermont or a flood devastates communities in Derry Township, Middletown and Harrisburg, Pa. It is then we count on ... the federal government to support us with disaster relief.”
Rand Paul, R-Ky., objected to Congress’s habit of wrapping individual appropriations bills into massive, catchall measures such as this one. “Actions such as this are a big part of what gives Washington a reputation for being dysfunctional,” he said. “The fact that authorizations for many programs expire on Sept. 30 each year is not a secret. Nor is it a secret when Sept. 30 will come around each year.”
A yes vote was to pass the bill.