House rejects bill providing $3.7 billion in relief

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rebuke to GOP leaders, the House on Wednesday rejected a measure providing $3.7 billion for disaster relief as part of a bill to keep the government running through mid-November.

The surprise 230-195 defeat came at the hands of Democrats and tea party Republicans.

Democrats were opposed because the measure contains $1.5 billion in cuts to a government loan program to help car companies build fuel-efficient vehicles. For their part, many GOP conservatives felt the underlying bill permits spending at too high a rate.

The outcome sends House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and his leadership team back to the drawing board as they seek to make sure the government doesn’t shut down at the end of next week. It also raises the possibility that the government’s main disaster relief program could run out of money early next week for victims of Hurricane Irene and other disasters.

Earlier Wednesday, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had confidently predicted the measure would pass.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has only a few days’ worth of aid remaining in its disaster relief fund, lawmakers said. The agency already has held up thousands of longer-term rebuilding projects — repairs to sewer systems, parks, roads and bridges, for example — to conserve money to provide emergency relief to victims of recent disasters.

Source:  Andrew Taylor, Associated Press

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