Shortly after Friday’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced that the chamber would return Monday afternoon to vote on its own funding measure, a move that cuts into an already-scheduled week-long recess.
The House is also scheduled to recess next week, and House Republican leaders declined to say Friday morning whether they would call lawmakers back into session to continue work on the funding dispute.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency could run out of funding as early as Monday, and the resolution currently keeping the federal government open is set to expire on Sept. 30.
At a Capitol news conference ahead of the Friday morning vote, House Republican leaders urged the Senate to take up the House-passed measure.
“With FEMA expected to run out of disaster funding as soon as Monday, the only path to getting assistance into the hands of American families immediately is for the Senate to approve the House bill,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said.
Hours earlier, the House had approved its version of the legislation by a 219-203 vote in an after-midnight roll call. But Democrats in both chambers have balked at the inclusion of more than $1 billion in cuts elsewhere in the budget in order to offset the additional disaster relief funding.
The vote in the upper chamber came after a midnight roll call, when House Republican leaders persuaded conservatives early Friday morning to support a stop-gap measure nearly identical to one they had rejected just 30 hours earlier. By a narrow margin, 213 Republicans supported the plan, along with six Democrats; 179 Democrats opposed it, joined by 24 Republicans.
Without a resolution, FEMA’s disaster relief fund will run out of money early next week and the rest of the government would be forced to shutdown Oct. 1.
FEMA said its Disaster Relief Fund had just $175 million as of Friday morning and would go broke by early next week, likely on Tuesday.
An unprecedented depletion of the fund would trigger federal laws governing how agencies are supposed to operate in the absence of funds, and the agency said it is consulting with Obama administration lawyers to determine how to proceed.
“The administration is committed to doing all it can under current legal authorities to continue vital operations, including assistance to individuals,” FEMA spokeswoman Rachel Racusen said in an e-mail. “ But there is no question this is a critical situation and one we are watching closely.”
House leaders contend that the Senate is responsible for blocking desperately needed disaster dollars from flowing to FEMA.
“You saw the House act,” said House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) as he left the Capitol early Friday morning. “We are intending that the money gets to FEMA and to disaster victims as they need it.”