FEMA Funding Dwindles as Dems, GOP Argue

POSTED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 2:42pm

UPDATED: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 - 4:37pm

WASHINGTON- There's another storm brewing in Washington over how to pay for all the disaster relief the federal government faces after what's become a record year for weather disasters.

The white house, FEMA and democrats are promising that relief funds will keep flowing, but republicans say not so fast. They want spending cuts elsewhere to offset it. Immediate relief, like airlifts of food and water to people stranded in areas ravaged by Irene, will continue, but that may be all, according to FEMA administrator Craig Fugate.

"I do not have enough money to rebuild but we do have money to continue response to support individual assistance. That's our priority right now," says Fugate.

Even with four months left, Hurricane Irene set a record for the most billion dollar weather disasters in a single year the U.S. has ever had. A year that included destructive snowstorms and devastating floods and tornados and has left FEMA with less than $800 million in its coffers right now.

Fugate has even had to put on hold rebuilding projects from the tornados in Joplin, Missouri and Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

"For any projects that have not come in for approval, we are not going to be able to fund those at this point. We're going to postpone those," says Fugate.

Postpone, not cancel because FEMA and the President are hoping to convince reluctant republicans to release extra money for extraordinary times. For example, Katia is now the 11th named storm of a season that's just now getting active.

"As a government, we're gonna make sure that states and communities have the support they need, so their folks can recover," says President Obama.

Many republicans, though, oppose increased FEMA funding unless there are spending cuts elsewhere. The GOP opposition to additional FEMA funding is led by house majority leader Eric Cantor even though Cantor's home of Virginia suffered through an earthquake as well as the hurricane last week. Even while other influential republicans like Christie of New Jersey and Blount of Missouri resist this particular spending cut.

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