Prior to the 53 to 33 cloture vote, which required 60 votes to advance, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) insisted that any senator who vote against the sanctions, which were not controversial, would do so in order to dodge a vote on funding FEMA.
“The only reason someone might be holding up this bill today is because… my friends on the other side of the aisle, the Republicans, don’t want the Senate to vote on disaster assistance,” said Reid.
Reid argued that the number and force of disasters that have struck the U.S. this year warrant swift and generous funding for FEMA in order to continue its response.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who was the only senator to come to the floor to speak against the bill, said he had only seen it a little more than an hour earlier and that nearly $7 billion of spending demanded more careful examination.
“Has anybody given any serious thought to that? “asked Sessions. “Seven billion dollars? The state of Alabama’s general budget is $2 billion. Seven billion is a lot of money. We have not looked at it, we have not thought about it.”
“I strongly oppose adding another debt spending bill that we haven’t carefully examined every penny of it to make sure it’s all necessary and appropriate,” Sessions continued.
FEMA funding, which was approved on Tuesday in the Senate Appropriations homeland security subcommittee as part of Department of Homeland Security's 2012 appropriations, amounts to about $6.9 billion, which is $4.2 billion more funding than is provided by the House bill and $666 million below fiscal 2011 appropriations.
The Senate adjourned on Monday following the vote and is set to return at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.