By Russell Berman - 09/23/11 04:00 PM EDT
House Republican leaders assailed a move by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to block a House stopgap spending bill, and said the lower chamber would leave town on Friday afternoon.
The brinksmanship could put federal disaster aid in the balance. While the federal government has money to run through Sept. 30, the Federal Emergency Management Agency could run dry on Monday without further congressional action, officials in both parties said.
“While we moved a responsible bill, it’s time for the Senate to move the House-passed bill,” Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in an impromptu news conference on Friday, just as the Senate began voting to table the House measure. “It really is the most responsible thing to do, and any delay that occurs because of inaction by the Senate will only imperil the needed disaster relief for thousands of families all across the country.”
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the House planned to adjourn as scheduled following votes on Friday afternoon. Both chambers are scheduled to be away on recess next week, though Reid has indicated the Senate will stay in session to resolve the impasse.
“Harry Reid is arguing with himself. This is why people don’t like Washington,” Cantor said.
Pressed on whether he was ruling out a return by the House next week, Cantor left the door open: “If we are back, that means Harry Reid has shut down FEMA.”