By Jamie Klatell - 09/25/11 02:27 PM EDT
Two veteran senators agreed Sunday morning that the latest budget standoff in Congress is not what the country needs, but the Democrat and Republican each made sure to point out that the potential government shutdown was the other party's fault.
"It's embarrassing," Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) said. "The Senate is saying ... in effect why should we rebuild schools in Iraq on the credit card but expect that schools in Joplin, Missouri, at this moment in time have to be paid for in a way that in any of the previous disaster assistance we've put out paid for."
Democrats in the Senate object to the bill's funding level for the Federal Emergency Management Agency and were upset over deep cuts to an energy program the GOP reduced as an offset to the increased funds to FEMA.
"What we should have been doing this past week is all we can do to create an environment so the work that Sen. Warner, Sen. [Saxby] Chambliss (R-Ga.) and others have done to reduce the debt by $4 trillion succeeds," Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said. "That would have been a good use of the week instead of this chest pounding and game playing that's been going on."
FEMA has $175 million in its disaster relief fund and the balance could reach zero by Tuesday or Wednesday, an agency spokeswoman said.
To blame, in Warner's view: "A small group within the House, the Tea Party crowd."
Not quite, according to Alexander. "I'll give the Senate Democratic leader most of the credit," Alexander said. "He manufactured a crisis all week about disaster when there's no crisis."
Both senators appeared on CNN's "State of the Union."