Today, the Republican Majority brought H.R. 2608 (the Continuing Appropriations Act) to the House floor for a vote. The bill funds the government through November 18th at the level agreed upon in the Budget Control Act and provides $3.65 billion for critical disaster assistance for states and communities hard hit by recent natural disasters–$1 billion for FY 2011 and $2.65 billion for FY 2012. Unfortunately, it offsets aid for FY 2011 by ending the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing loan program–-an initiative that puts people to work producing cleaner American cars and invests in innovation (despite the fact that Republicans supported disaster relief aid without requiring pay-fors eight times under George Bush).
Leader Pelosi spoke in opposition to the bill:
…if there is anything that is not political in our country, it is a natural disaster. You want to talk politics when somebody is suffering a natural disaster? There is no place for that. It is some place we walk on a ground that is more hallowed, more hallowed than the normal terrain in which we debate. And that terrain is the terrain of the disaster that has affected the American people.
If you looked in their eyes, you would feel so helpless that you cannot make them whole. You may not be able to have them have the personal effects of their families, seen it so many times. And will they economically be made whole? Will their homes be restored in a way that makes it the home it was before that they loved, that created a sense of community, one home after another?
So we are at a very sad place for all of these people. We don’t know who is next. And what makes me suspicious about what the Majority has put into this is—I want you to know this. We haven’t paid for natural disaster assistance before. They are using this Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing. They are taking $1 billion of it to pay for the disaster. And there is a half a billion dollars left, and they are rescinding it in this bill. They are eliminating it.
So this isn’t about paying for the disaster. This is about destroying an initiative that is job-creating, that is innovative, that keeps America number one, that creates jobs, good-paying jobs in our country. It’s really hard to understand what the motivation is for that. But one thing is clear: They are using the disaster to eliminate that initiative. And that’s just not right.
But even if they had the best off-set in the world, I still think it is wrong for them to go down a path that says: ‘This time, for your disaster, we are using this technology program.’ What’s next? With all of the disasters that we have, where do we have the room to say, ‘On those days, at that specific time, this is how we will pay for it’?
House Democrats offered a previous question (PQ) to consider an amendment sponsored by Rep. Dingell (D-MI) which would approve the level of disaster aid authorized by the U.S. Senate last week in a bipartisan vote (62-37) without an offset that sacrifices American jobs. While House Republicans defeated that effort, 48 House Republicans joined House Democrats in defeating the Continuing Appropriations Act by a vote of 195-230. Leader Pelosi on the bill’s failure:
Instead of creating jobs, the number one priority of the American people, this Republican bill would have cost good-paying jobs; that is why Democrats rejected it tonight. House Democrats will work tirelessly to create jobs, and Democrats will always provide Americans struggling in the aftermath of a disaster what they need to rebuild.
The rejection of this bill that destroys jobs was bipartisan. The House Republican leadership should now bring to the floor a clean CR and the bipartisan relief package already passed by the Senate.