Less than two months after nearly shutting down the federal government as they argued over the best way to reduce the budget deficit, there's word that Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are again at odds and that another shutdown showdown is possible.
Politico reports that:
-- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says he wants to "attach $6.9 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency to a stopgap funding bill that must pass in order to keep the federal government running after Sept. 30."
-- And Reid's announcement has been "blasted" by top House Republicans, "who favor a lower, $3.65 billion level for disaster aid."
Republican leaders, says The Washington Post, maintain "that disaster-relief monies included in [the] government funding bill must be offset by additional cuts elsewhere in the budget" and say their plan does that.
And according to The Hill, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he thinks a deal can be worked out by this Thursday, Reid said "I'm not that sure" there won't be a shutdown.
"We're not going to cave on this," Reid added, according to The Hill.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) says Reid is to blame for this latest tempest. "He's the one playing politics," Cantor said today.
Reid cited the "bipartisan" support for the larger figure in the Senate and said it was a sign that Republicans and Democrats in that chamber "agreed that helping communities destroyed by natural disasters was too important to let politics get in the way."
Complicating things further: While the federal fiscal year doesn't end until Sept. 30 (a week from Friday), "both the House and Senate are scheduled to be out next week for Rosh Hashanah, which means they need to wrap up work by the end of this week," Politico says.
FEMA's budget has been stretched thin this year by multiple natural catastrophes — from tornadoes in the spring to hurricanes and wildfires this summer.
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