House Dems Whip Against GOP Government Funding Bill Over Disaster Relief

September 21, 2011 10:21 a.m.

House Dem leadership is urging all caucus members to oppose the Republican legislation to continue funding the government past September 30 on the grounds that it cuts a popular manufacturing program to pay for federal disaster aid.

“Democratic Members are urged to vote NO on the previous question and the bill — as disasters are an emergency and we should not have to cut good-paying American jobs to provide essential disaster relief for families, small businesses, and communities,” reads a memo from Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s office.Their hard line follows an internal whip effort by House progressives, and a letter authored by Reps. Gary Peters (D-MI) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), cosigned by 100 Dems, urging House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to scrap the offset, which nixes a hybrid vehicle incentive.

“While the government has a responsibility to fund disaster response in places that were devastated by Hurricane Irene or other natural disasters, it is unconscionable to use funds designed to create jobs in manufacturing states to pay for it,” the letter reads.

If you doubt that the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing program is a jobs program, none other than Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) recently pressed the Department of Energy to expedite a loan application under the program to “help mitigate our state’s continued high unemployment rate.”

Dems will attempt to force a vote on an amendment to scrap the GOP’s disaster funds provision, and swap it out with a bipartisan measure, which passed the Senate last week, to provide FEMA with nearly $7 billion in disaster funds.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the so-called “continuing resolution” vote today. If Democrats sit it out, Republicans could have a hard time passing it on their own. Dozens of House conservatives want the funding bill to make deep across the board cuts to federal services, and Boehner could easily need Democratic help to get it passed.

This article originally identified one of the authors of a letter as Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT). It was Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI). We regret the error.

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