Senate to Give FEMA Funding Another Try

After Senate Republicans  last night blocked the $7 billion aid package for relief funding of the natural disasters that have swept the country this summer, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced today that he’d try again this afternoon. This afternoon the Senate votes on the Motion to Invoke Cloture on the Motion to Proceed to the Burma Sanctions Resolution, which is  the vehicle for the Federal Emergency Management Agency  funding bill.

Democrats again need 60 votes to advance the measure, but it does not look as if  they have the votes yet. Republicans say that the bill calls for too much spending – and they prefer to go through the House’s proposal for funding – attaching the FEMA aid package to the Continuing Resolution that would keep the government funded past Sept. 30. They will call for a $500 million increase for FEMA to remain solvent through the end of the month and will request an additional $5 billion for next year.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said today this is the track he prefers – as it would  include a “responsible approach” to the many disasters the country has faced over the last few months.

“Turning to that subject right now is really not necessary,” McConnell said today at the Ohio Clock stakeout on Capitol Hill. “It will be resolved in a responsible way before the end of the month, and some of the bills are still coming in as the extent of these disasters is still being tabulated. ”

As senators took to the Senate floor all day today with enlarged pictures of their states flooded and damaged,  Reid said he was  ”stunned” that the Republicans are blocking this bill, and especially by McConnell’s comment that it was not  necessary.

“That is really difficult to comprehend,” Reid said, noting that many states are suffering. “To say ‘now is not the time to turn to it’ is really not fair.

 ”We know the game being played by the House,” Reid continued. “They want to jam the CR, likely some low number into the CR to take care of these emergencies.”

 Reid said the message Republicans are sending to disaster victims is “tough luck.”

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