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Posted at 04:00 PM ET, 09/22/2011

Pelosi: Democrats will not support any disaster relief offset


(Win McNamee - GETTY IMAGES)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that Democrats will not support a stopgap funding measure that includes any offsetting of additional disaster relief funds, putting pressure on House Republicans to rework their funding resolution either to include additional money or to make deeper cuts in order to attract conservative support.

“I think I answered that question: There has never been an offset for disaster assistance,” Pelosi told reporters at a Capitol news conference when asked whether there might be any offset that House Democrats would back.

All but six members of the House Democratic caucus voted against Wednesday’s Republican-backed measure, which would have funded the government through Nov. 18 while cutting $1.5 trillion from the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program.

That particular cut was anathema to many Democrats, who argued that the loan program has generated tens of thousands of jobs.

“We shouldn’t even be having this conversation. ... The fact is when natural disaster strikes, the American people are in need,” Pelosi said. “They need to have the confidence that we are there. They don’t need to have the fear that there’s going to be a debate over how this is going to be paid for.”

If the parties do not come to a resolution before Sept. 30, the federal government could face a shutdown.

Pelosi declined to speculate Thursday on the path House Republicans might take in drafting a new stopgap funding resolution, or on the reaction among Democrats if GOP leaders decide to move in the direction of making deeper cuts to the bill rather than upping the disaster relief funding.

“Why don’t we just see what they do?” Pelosi said. “I don’t really want to go into a theoretical. There are many consequences to going down that path, but let’s just see what they do.”

Like House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) earlier Thursday, Pelosi dismissed the possibility of a government shutdown. But she argued that it’s now up to House Republicans to craft a bill that will pass both chambers.

“It has to be,” Pelosi said when asked whether she believed the impasse would be resolved. “It has to be resolved by next week, and the burden is on the majority to make sure that they put something forth that not only passes the House but will be acceptable in the United States Senate. I’d remind you, it’s a bicameral legislature, and if you’re going to not shut down the government, you’ve got to have something that is going to be able to be passed in the Senate.”

She said she hoped Republicans would make an effort to “split the difference” between the higher funding level preferred by the Senate and the lower figure in the House, as well as doing away with any offsetting.

“It’s an easy path going forward,” she said. “This isn’t philosophical, that they’re going to make people have doubt. I don’t think this has any political thread to it at all. The American people need help; we’re there for them. This is a priority.”

By  |  04:00 PM ET, 09/22/2011

 
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