Durbin slams Cantor for raising specter of government shutdown

“Another thing that worries me… as we come to the end of this week and face a recess... the Republican leader, Congressman Eric Cantor, has suggested that we may be facing another government shutdown threat,” said Durbin from the Senate floor. “That’s just incredible that the Republican leader would bring that up as one of the options as we go into this week before recess.”

ADVERTISEMENT
“We don’t need this,” continued Durbin. “We have faced two previous threats already this year from the Tea Party dominated Republican House of Representatives. The Republican leaders of the House should not be suggesting a [shutdown] as an alternative.”

The current government funding package is set to expire on Sept. 30, and although the House is working on a continuing resolution (CR) to renew funding on Wednesday, a disagreement over FEMA funds threatens to derail negotiations. 

The House CR contains $3.65 billion for the agency, while the Senate recently approved a standalone funding bill for FEMA that includes $6.9 billion in relief funds.

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced he would amend the continuing resolution received from the House to include that increased funding already agreed to in the Senate, a proposition which would likely be rejected by many House Republicans. 

Complicating the issue is the weeklong break both the House and Senate are scheduled to begin on the weekend, and the fact that FEMA, which is the process of hurricane, tornado and wildfire recovery, says it will run out of funds on Sept. 26. 

On Tuesday Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted the two sides would manage to hammer out an agreement before the recess begins.

"There will not be a government shutdown,” McConnell said.

Reid, however, said he was not as confident as McConnell that a shutdown could be avoided. 

"I'm not that sure,” he said.. "[I] am not as certain as McConnell."

Cantor, for his part, said on Tuesday that if there were a shutdown it would be the fault of Senate Democrats, led by Reid.

"It will be on Leader Reid's shoulders,” said Cantor. “There's nothing but politics going on in this."