WASHINGTON - With the economy sputtering, the warring factions of Congress took another step toward gridlock early Friday as the Republican-led House approved a $1.043 trillion Continuing Resolution to keep the government running past the end of the fiscal year, through November 18.
CBS News Capitol Hill producer Jill Jackson reports the bill, which also includes $3.65 billion in disaster aid funding for FEMA, passed by a vote of 219 to 203, just minutes before 1 a.m. in Washington.
GOP leaders convinced enough of their ranks to vote for the bill - which failed in a first vote - after adding $100 million in savings from a program that financed a federal loan to the now-bankrupt solar panel maker Solyndra Inc.
The leader of the Senate, however, has vowed that majority Democrats will reject the bill as soon as it reaches their chamber on Friday continuing the partisan war into the weekend and increasing the chances that the government's main disaster account might run dry early next week.
Democrats want almost double the $3.7 billion in disaster aid approved by House Republicans, and strongly oppose cuts to two clean energy programs demanded by the GOP House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the House plan "is not an honest effort at compromise..... It will be rejected by the Senate."
Jackson reports House leaders say they'll still go on recess over the weekend, no matter what the Senate does. "They are trying to force this on the Senate," she says. But, Jackson points out, Reid will have his work cut out for him trying to find an alternative in time to avoid a government shutdown.
"I urge the Senate to quickly pass this bill so we can send it to the president and keep our focus on the American people's top priority: jobs," said GOP House Speaker John Boehner in a statement released after the vote. "It provides immediate assistance to Americans impacted by natural disasters in a way that's best for families and taxpayers. And it lets lawmakers continue the important work of removing government barriers to private-sector job growth. The Democratic-led Senate should pass it without delay."
The renewed partisanship sends a discouraging sign as a bitterly divided Washington looks ahead to more significant debates on President Obama's jobs plan and efforts by a congressional supercommittee to slash deficits.
The maneuvering started as Republicans controlling the House moved to resurrect the disaster aid package after an. Instead of reaching out to Democrats, House GOP leaders looked to persuade wayward tea party Republicans to change their votes and help approve the assistance and try to force Senate Democrats into a corner with little choice but to accept cuts to clean energy programs they favor.
"We're fed up with this," said Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Democratic Whip. "They know what it takes for us to extend (stopgap funding) and keep the government in business. And this brinksmanship ... we're sick of it."
Unless Congress acts by midnight next Friday, much of the government will shut down. More immediate is the threat that the government's main disaster aid account will run dry early next week.
The battling came as the stock market absorbed heavy losses and pessimism about the economy deepened. The arguing was reminiscent of the poisonous atmosphere of this summer rather than lawmakers' more recent promises to work together to find common ground where possible.
Obama hardly sounded conciliatory as he pressed for action on his jobs bill at an Ohio River bridge that links Speaker Boehner's home state of Ohio with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell's Kentucky. Echoing Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, Obama intoned, "Mr. Boehner, Mr. McConnell, help us rebuild this bridge."
In Washington, Wednesday's embarrassing 230-195 defeat of the disaster aid bill in the GOP-majority House exposed divisions within the Republican Party that demonstrated the tenuous grip that Boehner has on the chamber. Forty-eight Republicans opposed the measure, chiefly because it would permit spending at the rate approved in last month's debt pact between Boehner and Obama, a level that is unpopular with tea party lawmakers.
GOP leaders maneuvered to win a vote on the largely identical measure by arguing to wayward Republicans that the alternative was to give Democrats a better deal by adding more disaster aid or decoupling it from $1.5 billion in spending cuts.
"What we voted on yesterday was the best deal Republicans could get and it can only go downhill from here," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y. "So we should try to revote again on the same bill we had yesterday, vote on it again, pass it this time, or if not we'll have to make concessions that would help the Democrats."