House Republicans are continuing the tough talk on shutting down the government over fully funding disaster relief efforts. The House has a continuing resolution for government funding that includes low-ball funding for disaster relief that is offset by cuts to a green energy project. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says that the Senate would send the bill back to the House with those provisions and no increase to FEMA aid.
While House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is saying "No one's intending to bring about a government shutdown. The country has sort of seen enough of that," one of his lieutenants is sounding less conciliatory.
The House GOP's chief vote-counter, Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), bluntly warned Reid that if the Senate added more FEMA money or eliminated the offsetting cut to the energy program, the revised bill might not get through the House. "If Reid does what he does, I don't see the votes on the floor for it," McCarthy said. "He's holding up the ability of individuals to get their relief."
House Democrats are pointing out that the paltry funding the Republicans are willing to provide comes at the cost of manufacturing jobs, and that with the inadequate funding for FEMA and the counter-productive offset, the necessary Democratic votes to get the GOP bill passed might not be there.
The funding is partially offset by a $1.5 billion cut to a Department of Energy loan program for manufacturers of fuel-efficient cars.[...]
"We believe the Republicans' $1.5 billion cut in the advance manufacturing technology initiative is counterproductive to growth in jobs and to growth in the economy. We think they’re making a mistake," Hoyer told reporters in his weekly briefing. "I think Democrats will be loath to support that effort. We think it's counterproductive."[...]
Separately, 77 House Democrats signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) urging him to abandon the cuts to the loan program. They noted that the initiative was first signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 and said the cuts could cost up to 10,000 jobs.
The Senate passed a $6.9 billion standalone FEMA funding bill, without offsets, last week. Senate Republicans don't seem too comfortable with their House compatriots' brinksmanship, and Senate Majority Leader is threatening to keep the Senate in all week next week. He's also putting pressure on 10 Senate Republicans from states hit by natural disasters to break with House Republicans. One of those Senators, Roy Blunt (R-MO) might just make that break, saying, "I need some kind of commitment [from House Republicans] that we're going to meet these needs."
This is not solid ground for House Republicans, if Democrats can continue to keep the focus on the need for disaster relief and jobs Republicans are willing to sacrifice. The Republican position isn't popular with the public, and a shutdown over this could turn very sour for Republicans very fast.