WASHINGTON – The Republican-led House on Friday passed a stopgap measure to fund the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) citing the need to pay employees who are preparing for the approach of Tropical Storm Karen in the Gulf Coast.
“This is a major storm and we have to take it seriously,” said Rep. John Carter, Texas Republican.
The bill would fund FEMA at the same annual rate of $10 billion through Dec. 15 and would assure that disaster relief funding continues for other states that have experienced forest fires and other emergency situations.
The bill passed on a vote of 247 to 164. Coloradoans voting yes included Republican Reps. Mike Coffman, Doug Lamborn, Cory Gardner, and Democratic Reps. Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis.
Not voting were Democrat Diana DeGette and Republican Scott Tipton.
However, it is unlikely the Democratic-controlled Senate will allow a vote on the bill.
FEMA has already stated that flood disaster relief for Colorado is contained in a fund not affected by the appropriation process that has brought most of Washington to a standstill. That financial support will continue, and 1,000 FEMA officials will remain in Colorado to assist with recovery efforts.
Democrats who refused to support the funding bill to prepare and respond to natural disasters called it a cynical political ploy by Republicans.
“They all know this is a fool’s errand,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Texas Democrat.
She argued that Homeland Security agencies should not be funded piecemeal, including the Federal Air Marshal Service that she said had been grounded and is no longer protecting flights against terrorist attacks.
Gardner issued a statement just prior to the vote announcing his support for the measure and urged Democrats to meet Republicans at a negotiating table to reopen the government.
“Four days of a federal government shutdown is four days too many. Both sides have laid out their positions, but when it comes to finding a compromise and re-opening the government, the president and Senate Democrats refuse to come to the table and negotiate,” Gardner said.
“Over the past four days, while Democrats have dug their feet in and pounded their fists, the ripples of a government shutdown have had impacts across the country,” Gardner said.