Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is urging Congress to get over a partisan spat that's left emergency responders low on resources.
Both chambers of Congress were scheduled to be in recess this week, but party leaders haven't been able to compromise on a temporary spending bill. Included in the mix is money to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and FEMA officials say their account will be zeroed out early this week if Congress doesn't act.
They've already stopped work in some parts of the U.S. after the House rejected a continuing resolution, or CR, to keep funding the government last week. The Senate in turn voted down the House's alternative version of the bill Friday. The fight centers on whether Congress should offset $3.6 billion in disaster relief funding included in the bill with cuts to other programs. Some House Republicans insist the funding must come from other programs, while Democrats argue the offsets aren't necessary.
Maryland Governor O'Malley (D) says it's negligent to allow a partisan fight to hinder the government's ability to respond to recent disasters.
"I think it's outrageous that these ideologues, these narrow
minded folks, in the new Congress would look at the suffering and devastation that these tornados and floods have caused and say that the United States isn't going to help citizens in need until they sharpen their ideological axe," O'Malley says.
If an agreement isn't worked out and passed the federal government will also run out money at the end of the week. The Senate is holding a vote later this afternoon on a new bill to keep the government funded, but it's unclear if it will pass or be acceptable to House Republicans.
The next step will be a vote in the Senate today on whether to end debate on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's version of the bill -- which does not include the FEMA offsets.