2011-09-13 "GOP Says Hold Your Horses On Disaster Relief" by Robin M.
The Republicans are making good on their promise not to provide any more aid to victims of natural disasters without ensuring there are equal cuts to spending to balance the expenditure. According to the New York Times, the Democratic effort to fast track a straight relief bill, which would help replenish the FEMA coffers that have been emptied by this summer’s string of tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and earthquakes, has been blocked by the Senate Republicans.
The administration was asking for an additional $500 million in a stand alone vote with no strings attached to ensure the relief fund did not run out of money before September 30th. But the funding was denied by Republicans, who said they would instead add the request into a bill that would provide stop gap funds to keep the full government running past the end of the month, meaning those effected by disaster will only get the aid if the rest of the bill is passed.
The stand alone fast track bill was “defeated” 53-33, needing 60 votes to pass due to filibuster rules. It’s a sad day in government when people who have lost everything in natural disasters have to worry about whether or not aid money runs out because a bill to provide more only had 20 more votes for it than against it.
After a second try, a bill finally did pass on a 61 to 38 vote, with a group of Republicans voting yes who had abstained before — senators who had states who were suffering. The bill will now go to the House, where it could be stalled by the Republican majority.