No Aid Yet For Irene, Lee Flooding Victims After House Kills Spending Bill With Disaster Relief
NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) – Democrats and the Tea Party teamed up to defeat a Republican-led effort to provide $3.7 billion in disaster relief.
LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reports
If you’re a Tri-state area resident waiting for a FEMA check because of flooding, you’re going to have to keep waiting.
Congress has defeated a bill that would’ve provided nearly $4 billion as part of a bill to keep the government running through mid-November.
Democrats were opposed because the measure contains $1.5 billion in cuts to a government loan program to help car companies build fuel-efficient vehicles. For their part, many GOP conservatives felt the underlying bill permits spending at too high a rate.
Among other things, the outcome raises the possibility that the government’s main disaster relief program could run out of money early next week for victims of Hurricane Irene and other disasters.
“We’re Americans. We come together. This wasn’t a Democratic storm or a Republican storm,” said north Jersey congressman Bill Pascrell.
Pascrell is angry that Republicans wanted to find cuts to offset the disaster spending.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has only a few days’ worth of aid remaining in its disaster relief fund, lawmakers said Wednesday. The agency has already held up thousands of longer-term rebuilding projects, repairs to sewer systems, parks, roads and bridges, for example, to conserve money to provide emergency relief to victims of recent disasters.
“But I’ll be damned if I’m going to accept a precedent that tells us we have to rob Peter to pay Paul,” he said.
Pascrell prefers a Senate bill that has no strings attached.
Senate Democrats, who muscled through a stand-alone $6.9 billion disaster aid measure last week, called upon House GOP leaders to add additional disaster funding to whatever future stopgap measure rises from the rubble of Wednesday’s vote.
“Consider making the disaster relief more robust” in the next bill, said Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La. “Please talk to the Democrats.”
Landrieu said FEMA Director Craig Fugate told her Wednesday that the agency’s disaster relief fund may run dry Tuesday. That would mean that there’s no money to provide shelter, cash assistance or other help to victims of Irene, thousands of fires across Texas and flooding in Northeastern states.
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