Today the government shutdown fight will intensify when Senate Dems hold a vote on their proposal to fund disaster relief without offsetting it with spending cuts elsewhere, as Republicans want.
Can it pass? If so, it could conceivably intensify pressure on House Republicans to move in the Dem direction of supporting aid with no string attacked. But passage is uncertain, and Dems are privately lobbying for support from approximately 10 Republican Senators who voted for such funding — without offsets — nearly two weeks ago, aides say.
On September 15th, the Senate passed another disaster relief measure, one that would spend $7 billion on emergency relief over the next year.
Though that disaster relief bill was not offset with spending cuts elsewhere, 10 Senate Republicans defied party leaders to support the measure.
They are: Senators Roy Blunt, Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, John Hoeven, Lisa Murkowski, Marco Rubio, Olympia Snowe, Pat Toomey, and David Vitter.
How will they vote this time, now that the scrutiny on this vote will increase exponentially from both sides?
A Senate Democratic leadership aide says that Dem leaders are confident that they have the support of a “handful” of these Republicans. It appears they’re still far from certain they can muster the required 60 votes for passage.
Dems are pointing to the fact that Republicans who voted yes last time — particularly who are from areas affected by disasters — did so because they recognized the urgent need for relief. Senator Blunt said at the time that the funding was “important for the state of Missouri, for the Corps of Engineers to meet their obligations for flood control and river management.” And Senator Hoeven said that the funding was essential to ensure that North Dakota communities “have the assistance they need to recover.”
So it’ll be interesting to see how these 10 Republican Senators vote this time around, now that the battle over disaster relief has emerged as central in the latest government shutdown fight.