By Mike Lillis - 09/21/11 02:35 PM EDT
A "great majority" of House Democrats will oppose the GOP's short-term spending bill when it hits the floor Wednesday afternoon, party leaders announced just hours before the vote.
The Democrats are opposed to a provision of the Republicans' continuing resolution (CR) that would offset emergency disaster funding by slashing a fuel-efficiency program.
"Not because we don't want to keep the government in operations – we do," Hoyer added. "But because we believe there's an emergency [and] the CR includes emergency money for people who need resources now."
Hoyer said he is whipping the caucus to oppose the measure.
The Democratic opposition puts additional pressure on GOP leaders to rally the support of their troops for the sake of passing the Republican package – something House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) have failed to do in the high-profile budget battles that have defined the year to date.
As an indication of possible GOP dissent, more than 50 Republicans last week signed onto a letter – spearheaded by Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) – urging Boehner, Cantor and Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) not to allow 2012 discretionary spending to exceed the levels proposed in Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's (R-Wis.) spending blueprint for next year.
Cantor has repeatedly said the House will pass the CR this week.
Unveiled last week, the CR would fund the government through Nov. 18. To address a string of recent natural disasters, the bill includes almost $3.7 billion in emergency relief, most of which would go to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
Breaking from the congressional tradition of tacking emergency funding onto the deficit, GOP leaders want to offset immediate allocations of disaster aid by cutting a Democratic program to subsidize the development of new fuel efficiency technologies.
"It is unfortunate that the Republicans have chosen once again to put in a poison pill that they knew we would not agree to in a piece of legislation they know has to pass," Hoyer said Wednesday. "Mr. Cantor says we ought to pay for what we buy. Unfortunately, the Bush administration did not pursue that philosophy, nor did the Republican Congress when Republicans were in charge."
Hoyer said he has "made it clear" to Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) that Democrats will back the spending package "if it is a non-controversial CR."
Hoyer said he will oppose the bill, as will Rep. Norm Dicks (Wash.), the senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee.
Dicks had issued a statement last week suggesting he would support the package despite his wariness of the disaster-aid offset.
The Democrats are urging House GOP leaders to consider a Senate-passed FEMA bill that would provide almost $7 billion in disaster relief without cutting other programs in the budget.
This story was updated at 11:18 a.m.