Senate Democrats were successful the second time around Tuesday, narrowly advancing a $7 billion disaster aid package that Republicans blocked a day earlier.
On a 61-38 vote, all 53 Democrats and eight Republicans from disaster-afflicted states agreed to move forward on legislation that would help areas of the country hit by Hurricane Irene and recent tornadoes, flooding and wildfires. Sixty votes were needed.
Republicans who cast an “aye” vote were Sens. Roy Blunt of Missouri; Scott Brown of Massachusetts; John Hoeven of North Dakota; Dean Heller of Nevada; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; David Vitter of Louisiana; and Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine. In Monday’s failed 53-33 vote, Toomey had voted no, while Sen. Dan Coats of (R-Ind.) had voted yes.
The legislation actually is a noncontroversial bill to reauthorize sanctions against Burma, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has indicated he will use it as a vehicle for his stand-alone disaster bill and wrap up work on it by week’s end.
Senate Republicans, who have objected to the bill’s price tag and the fact that it doesn’t include an equal amount of savings, have said they’ll back a separate, smaller disaster bill that the GOP-led House plans to attach to legislation needed to avert a partial government shutdown by Oct. 1.
Tuesday’s Senate vote came after Reid hammered Republicans for holding up funding that would replenish the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s nearly exhausted disaster relief fund. This year alone, President Barack Obama has declared emergencies in all but two states in the country, Michigan and West Virginia, Reid said.
“To say now it’s not the time to turn to it is really not fair," Reid said. “We need the money now.”
Senate Dems finally move disaster aid
HT Think Progress via twitter
And eventually we will run out of money...