John Boehner: 'No threat' of shutdown over disaster aid

September 22, 2011|By Lisa Mascaro
(Win McNamee / Getty Images )

After a stunning defeat, House Republican leaders are considering dropping or changing their requirement that disaster aid be paid for with spending cuts elsewhere.

Republican leaders are racing the clock to avoid a government shutdown after their spending bill for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct.1, was rejected in a surprise setback. They insisted on spending cuts to cover aid for victims of Hurricane Irene and other recent disasters. Democrats soundly rejected that approach.

Now Republican leaders are scrambling to make the legislation more palatable to Democrats, whose votes GOP will need to pass the bill. Their own conservative ranks also oppose the bill, saying overall spending levels are too high.

"There's no threat of government shutdown," House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday.

Republicans will meet behind closed doors later Thursday to assess options.

One emerging strategy would be to change the funding source for disaster aid. Democrats said the GOP plan to cut loans for an alternative energy manufacturing program would halt green energy job growth. The influential U.S. Chamber of Commerce also said Thursday other funding sources should be considered.

Leaders could also consider dropping the requirement that aid be paid for with cuts elsewhere. The Senate has already approved disaster aid using that approach.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to run out of disaster aid Monday.

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