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Partisan Battle Moves US Closer to Government Shutdown

September 23, 2011

U.S. Senate Democrats have blocked a bill that would have provided aid for U.S. flood victims and avoided a partial government shutdown, setting up another round of bitter partisan bickering.

The Democratic-led Senate voted 59-to-36 Friday to kill an emergency spending bill from the Republican-led House of Representatives. The House passed the measure in the early hours of Friday.

The legislation would have funded the government through November 18 and included $3.65 billion for domestic disaster relief. But Senate Democrats said the Republican-backed plan failed to provide enough disaster aid. They also criticized a provision that would have cut $1.5 billion from government clean energy programs, saying the cuts would kill needed jobs.

Following the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called on Republican leaders to “cool off” , and work with him in the coming days to find a solution.

Earlier, the speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, called the measure a “reasonable, responsible approach” and chastised Democrats for threatening to hold up disaster relief.

The Senate has vowed to pass its own spending bill that includes nearly $7 billion in disaster aid. If a temporary bill is not passed by next Friday , the government will partially shut down.

Before the Senate vote, White House spokesman Jay Carney blamed Republicans for the impasse, accusing them of the same type of partisan brinkmanship that “really repelled Americans” during the recent debt crisis.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor also criticized the partisanship Friday but put the blame on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, accusing the Nevada Democrat of playing politics.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency could be affected before then because its disaster assistance accounts will likely run out of money by Monday.

Both chambers of Congress are scheduled to be in recess next week.

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