House approves rule; CR passage expected after midnight

The House approved the rule for the bill on a party-line 238-176 vote — Rep. Jason Altmire (Pa.) was the only Democrat who voted for the rule. With passage of the rule, a House vote on the continuing resolution was expected after midnight.

Debate on the rule was marked by more Democratic complaints that the bill unnecessarily strips funds from another Energy Department program that funds auto-company research on ways to make cars more fuel-efficient. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) argued that cutting that program is the wrong way to provide more funding for FEMA.

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"I myself believe it's a matter of principle that we should just do with disaster assistance what we always have done: have no doubt in anyone's mind that when a natural disaster strikes, the federal government will be there," Pelosi said. "FEMA will be funded, and ... we don't have to look around for a place to say, 'Let's prioritize.' No, disaster assistance is our priority."

Other comments from Democrats underlined the rising tension between the two parties. "This bill is an embarrassment," Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) said. "This bill is is not worthy of this Congress."

"This House is badly broken," added Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.). "This Republican leadership is out of touch. This process is a disgrace."

Senate Democratic leaders indicated they would shoot down the proposal as early as Friday and threatened to stay in next week to work on a compromise bill. By late Thursday, it was unclear whether Republicans would agree to cancel their planned recess and work on a compromise, or threaten to lay the blame for a government shutdown on the Senate.