Yee-Haw! More Hostage Taking! This Time Over Disaster Relief
This time the Republicans in Congress may shut down the government over disaster relief funding. Ain't that just grand?
In a Thursday letter, over 50 House Republicans, led by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), pushed Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to make steep cuts to discretionary spending in the next fiscal year, reneging on the agreement the parties struck to resolve the debt limit standoff. That legislation set a cap on discretionary spending at $1.043 trillion and both Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) are committed to funding the government at that level for the coming year.
But many House conservatives want to go lower, and if they defect then House Democrats will have to pitch in to make sure it passes and avert a shut down.
There's just one problem.
The House's funding legislation (known as a 'continuing resolution') provides what Democrats and even some Republicans say is insufficient money for disaster relief. On top of that, the GOP offset that money by slashing over a billion dollars from a program meant to encourage hybrid-vehicle development. [...]
At [House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's] weekly Capitol briefing Thursday she warned, "I have two concerns about the continuing resolution. One is that we are setting, I think, a dangerous--and I use that word purposefully--a dangerous precedent by saying that our disaster assistance must be offset. This has never been. It would be a dangerous precedent to set. [Second] I am particularly concerned about the particular offset they have because it is about the future.... I think it is a very bad choice, as do my members."
Jeff Flake? You can't make this stuff up, though I wish it was April Fool's day. Then again, with the Teahadists in the House of Representatives every day is a Fool's Day. Meanwhile over 40 representatives from the states needing disaster relief called on Congressional leaders not to play politics with the funding for disaster relief and to pass a clean bill ASAP. From The Hill:
A bipartisan group of House legislators representing districts hit by Hurricane Irene called on Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to approve additional relief funding.
The bipartisan Hurricane Irene Coalition, convened by Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), sent a letter to the two House leaders urging them to provide additional funding for areas ravaged by the August hurricane.
"As members of the Hurricane Irene Coalition, we respectfully request your leadership in ensuring FEMA and the other federal agencies involved in the relief and recovery efforts have the funds necessary to fulfill their mission in response to Hurricane Irene," the letter states.
"While our constituents are working to get back on their feet, they cannot do it alone," the letter continues. "Please provide funding that ensures the swift recovery of the families, farms, business in our districts." [...]
Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-N.Y.) said that the aid should not be contingent on the budget.
Welch said the coalition did not have a specific number in mind.
"None of us know what the exact right number is," Welch said. "And I think our position is: Let our governors get the best assessment, let FEMA get the best assessment and then our job is to get that amount of money and not a dollar more than is necessary but not dollar less than is legitimate back to our constituents. That's the bottom line."
I wonder which letter Boehner is going to pay more attention to? I know, that's a trick question.