Stories about “an imminent government shutdown” are quickly becoming of the dog-bites-man variety, especially after the debt ceiling brinkmanship over the summer and the debate over the omnibus spending bill last year, but they are one step closer to turning the lights out at the Capitol after the Senate shot down a House bill that Democrats say doesn’t provide enough relief to communities affected by the recent storms and that offsets even that aid with spending cuts elsewhere.
This has set off many recriminations on both sides of the aisle, including among our home state lawmakers. Within an hour, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm fired off statements blaming the other side for the breakdown.
“Americans have always stood by those who are suffering and need relief to help rebuild,” Gillibrand said. “That’s exactly what we need to do right now for families and businesses struggling to recover from the trail of devastation that Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee left across New York State. No one can question the suffering these New Yorkers have endured, but the House is leaving them hanging out to dry. Communities across the country trying to dig out from these storms and other natural disasters can’t afford any more political games in Washington. They need us to set the right priorities, come together, and do what’s right so we can rebuild from these disasters.”
Grimm meanwhile took sharper aim at the Democrats, calling the vote against the House measure “reprehensible.”
The Senate Democrats failure to pass this bill is the perfect example of why we can’t work together. This bill doubles the President’s emergency funding request and meets the budget level Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid already agreed to in August under the Budget Control Act of 2011. As we try to keep the government running and FEMA aid flowing, Democrats in both chambers have gone back on their word and now insist on playing political games.
Earlier this week, leaders of both parties agreed to a compromise that would have passed the House with bipartisan support. Under Nancy Pelosi’s leadership, they backed out – choosing to play politics with the lives of the American people in a shameful attempt to gain a political advantage. Today, Harry Reid has pulled a sudden reversal and led Senate Democrats in doing the same.
The people of Staten Island and Brooklyn hit by Hurricane Irene cannot afford a lapse in FEMA aid. I find it reprehensible that Harry Reid has failed to put the American people before politics and rejected this bill. It is a sad day in America knowing that political posturing is a bigger priority for him than the citizens he represents.