FEMA funding becoming a disaster

The federal government is again facing a possible shutdown in the next week as lawmakers battle to hammer out a budget. One agency that could run out of money by midweek is FEMA.

CBS News correspondent reports that the situation could lead to even more disaster for many who have seen enough. The Senate is gearing up to vote on the situation on Monday.

In the meantime, victims of this year's floods, tornados and wildfires may also become victims of Washington politics.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wonder openly recently if Republicans want the government to shut down.

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"Do they want FEMA to close?" Reid asked.

Democrats insist disaster relief should come without strings, while Republicans say you can't ignore the deficit.

"What's at issue is whether we are going to add to the debt or not," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Late last week, the Senate rejected a House bill to fund the government through November 18th.

Majority Leader Harry Reid's new bill, to be put to a vote on Monday, totals $1 trillion, with $3.7 billion going to FEMA disaster aid. But it drops $1.6 billion in Republican proposed spending cuts that Democrats argue would cost up to 10,000 jobs.

"We should not have to kill jobs to provide disaster relief to people that need it," Reid said.

When Reid's bill comes to the floor, Senate Republicans say they'll block it, setting the stage for another eleventh-hour deal. The funds they're fighting over are miniscule - roughly .04 percent of the federal budget.

"I don't like this business of sitting around blaming each other over such small potatoes," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Moody's economist Mark Zandi warned today on Face the Nation that continued Washington gridlock will only damage America's recovery.

"The key to turning this around in the next few months is policymakers need to get it together, and they need to act," Zandi said.

Even if the Senate passes a new bill, the House is on break next week, further complicating negotiations. Still, most in both parties claim, there won't be a government shutdown.

  • Whit Johnson

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