UPDATE: 6 p.m. -- The House on Wednesday failed to pass a continuing resolution to keep the federal government funded past next week, a major defeat for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who was banking on having the votes to pass a package that tied emergency disaster aid to spending cuts.
The bill went down in a vote of 195 to 230. Forty-eight Republicans sided with nearly all Democrats in opposing the resolution aimed at keeping the government funded past Sept. 30, when current funding runs out, and through Nov. 18.
Two factions of Republicans had major problems with the bill as they headed into the vote: Conservative lawmakers wanted more spending cuts, and GOP lawmakers affected by recent disasters were uneasy with the bill's provision that tied $1.5 billion in emergency disaster aid to cuts to a fuel-efficiency loan program.
* * * * *
WASHINGTON -- House Republican leaders inched forward Wednesday with legislation to keep the government funded past next week, despite a heated fight with Democrats over paying for emergency disaster aid in the bill.
By a vote of 238 to 185, the House cleared a procedural hurdle to begin debate on a continuing resolution to fund the government past Sept. 30, when current funding is set to run out, and through Nov. 18. Only one Democrat, Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.), voted with Republicans to move forward.
Throughout the hour-long debate on the rule, Democrats railed against Republican leaders for insisting on including $1.5 billion in emergency disaster aid in the bill that is paid for with cuts to a fuel-efficiency loan program. They argued that the move is unprecedented since emergency aid is typically not paid for, and said Republicans were hurting the economy by taking money from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program, which is aimed at helping the auto industry expand and create jobs.
"This CR is a bunch of smoke and mirrors," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas). "'If I can find a dime to pay for your misery, I will find a dime.' That is not the American way."
"This is the most stingy, short-sighted, poorest form of representative government I've ever seen," said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.). "You know who's not a job creator? Anyone who votes yes on this bill."
Republicans countered they are changing business as usual in Congress by trying to pay for what they spend. They emphasized that their bill includes a total of $3.65 billion for disaster aid -- $1 billion for immediate emergency aid with offsets and $2.65 billion without offsets to be added into annual spending bills still being negotiated -- which is far more than President Barack Obama's request for aid.
"Our bill provides twice what the president requested," said Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.). "I am proud that we're trying to grapple with these issues."
House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said the move by Republicans to pull funds from the fuel-efficiency program won't have any effect on states trying to benefit from the program.
"On that green car fund- I'm going to call it that," Rogers said. "There is over $4 billion this minute sitting idle in that account and it's been sitting there idle for years. The $1.5 billion rescission in subsidies we propose will not have a significant impact on the program."
Next up: The House heads into a debate directly on the bill.