Reid: I’m Not Confident A Government Shutdown Can Be Avoided

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) insisted Tuesday that Democrats will not back down in their disagreement with Republicans over how much disaster relief money to provide FEMA and therefore that the threat of a government shutdown is very real.

House Republicans and Senate Democrats are at odds over a provision in legislation to avoid a government shutdown to provide relief to disaster-stricken parts of the country. Democrats are pushing for several billion additional dollars in disaster relief, and are livid over GOP insistence that these funds be offset (specifically with a controversial budget cut to a hybrid vehicle program.)“If they want to stay into next week, that’s fine, we can do that…we can work all next week. The government doesn’t shut down until I think it’s a week from Saturday,” Reid told reporters at his weekly Capitol briefing. “Senator McConnell said there will be no shutdown. I’m not that sure. I’m not that sure. Because the Tea Party-driven House of Representatives has been so unreasonable in the past I don’t know why they should suddenly be reasonable.”

Last week, Senate Democrats along with 10 Republicans, passed a bill to re-up FEMA’s disaster relief account by nearly $7 billion, with no offsetting budget cuts. Reid is insisting that this legislation be included in a broader House package to fund the rest of the government. But Republican leaders say Reid’s plan is DOA in the House.

For now, Reid and House Republicans are only toying with the possibility of a shutdown. But the two parties will have to reach some accommodation by September 30, or that’s what will happen. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) confidently predicted Congress will avoid that outcome, but Reid’s not convinced.

“We’re not going to cave in on this,” Reid said. “it’s a matter of principle.”

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