Blocks Bill To Replenish FEMA & Avert Government Shutdown, Then Skips Town
With thousands of Americans across the country desperately needing disaster relief funds in the wake of devastating hurricanes, tornados, floods, wildfires and earthquakes, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) stood behind his liberal party leadership in Washington today and blocked a bill that includes $3.7 billion in immediate disaster relief assistance, while averting a government shutdown next week.
The bill was blocked despite acknowledgments from these very same Democrat leaders that FEMA “could run out of money as soon as Monday.” Yet, what’s more, instead of staying in Washington and working through the weekend to address this very serious problem, Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid announced there will be no more votes in the Senate until Monday.
“Once again, Bill Nelson had a choice to make today – to stand behind Harry Reid and her fellow liberals in Washington, or to stand-up for the thousands of families suffering from natural disasters – and just as with the stimulus and ObamaCare, he stood behind Harry Reid. It’s become a familiar and disturbing pattern for Senator Nelson, but one that we fully expect Floridians to hold him accountable for next year,” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Jahan Wilcox said today.
The House-passed bill would have provided an immediate infusion of $774 million in disaster relief funding, $226 million in flood control funding, and another $2.65 billion for disaster aid efforts available immediately on October 1 – more than enough until November 18 (the length of the House-passed CR). As the Associated Press reported, “the House GOP plan won bipartisan support in June when it passed as part of a broader homeland security spending bill. And the $3.7 billion in House aid would provide sufficient help while lawmakers work out a broader spending bill for the 2012 budget year beginning Oct. 1.”
However, Senate Democrats killed the bill because it was paid for in part by offsetting cuts to “clean energy” programs, championed by the Obama Administration, such as the controversial loan guarantee to Solyndra; a company that is currently under investigation by the FBI and Congressional ethics board for potential criminal and ethics charges.
Additional Background Information:
- “While billions of dollars of damage mount from recent storms, flooding and wildfires, the fund has dwindled to just $215 million as of Wednesday and probably will be exhausted by Monday, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” (Sun-Sentinel, 9/21/11)
- “At issue this time is funding for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, and a series of recent wildfires and tornadoes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency could run out of funds as soon as Monday, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada.” (CNN, 9/23/11)
- “For FEMA, the issue is especially urgent. As of Thursday, FEMA had $212 million in its disaster-relief fund, according to spokeswoman Rachel Racusen, compared with $399 million nine days earlier. The agency is burning through money following a spate of natural disasters this year, most recently Hurricane Irene. It projects its disaster-relief fund will run out of money next week. It has stopped taking on new projects because it only has enough money to focus on more-urgent needs.” (Wall Street Journal, 9/22/11)
- “Unless Congress acts by midnight next Friday, much of the government will shut down. More immediate is the threat that the government’s main disaster aid account will run out of money early next week.” (The Associated Press, 9/23/11)