Harry Reid
J. Scott Applewhite  /  AP
In this Sept. 23, 2011, photo, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid gestures during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
updated 9/29/2011 12:35:38 PM ET 2011-09-29T16:35:38

A nearly empty House on Thursday passed a stopgap spending measure to avert a government shutdown this weekend and refill disaster aid coffers drained by a series of recent storms, fires and tornadoes.

The measure passed the House with the unanimous permission of all members present in a chamber that was nearly deserted because Congress is on vacation.

It now goes to the White House for President Barack Obama's signature. Just three lawmakers were there in a session that last all of five minutes: Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who presided; Rep. John Culberson, R-Texas, who offered the motion to pass the bill; and Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, who represented Democrats.

Story: Senators pass bill to avert government shutdown

The compromise measure, which passed the Senate Monday night, provides $2.7 billion in disaster aid, less than both Democrats and Republicans had hoped for. The disaster funding was cut back by $1 billion after a battle over whether that portion of the aid should have been "paid for" with spending cuts to clean energy programs favored by Democrats.

Republicans had insisted on requiring cuts to a loan guarantee program benefiting the auto industry to offset the most urgently needed portion of disaster aid — $1 billion in funding to prevent the Federal Emergency Management Agency from running out of disaster money this week. The battle had raised the possibility of a government shutdown, but the situation was defused on Monday after FEMA revealed that the emergency money wasn't needed after all.

Story: On spending, Congress can't agree on easy stuff

The administration says the influx of disaster money will allow FEMA to resume funding longer term rebuilding projects that had been put on hold to conserve aid to provide immediate help to victims of Hurricane Irene and other recent disasters.

The stopgap bill funds the government through Tuesday, allowing lawmakers to return next week and hold a recorded vote on another measure that would keep the government open through mid-November. The recorded tally would allow tea party opponents of the spending measure to register their opposition.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Congress faces leadership crisis

  1. Closed captioning of: Congress faces leadership crisis

    >>> well, developing right now on capitol hill , if you're wondering about your leaders, more shenanigans in the senate with a vote to kick the can down the road for a month or so on government spending . that ought to do it, at least for this month. if the bill doesn't pass in the house, and it's not expected to, the government will shut down friday night. i'm not going to bottom getting all worked up over that. we've been through that once already. it's no surprise, however, that a record 81% of americans are dissatisfied with the way our country is being governed. the obvious question is who is the 19% and will you please stand up. that frustration continues to play out for a tenth straight day in its own version here in new york that up a wall street , which has been a small but consistent and unrelenting group downtown. whether it is those folks, tea partyers, liberals, conservatives, call yourself what you want, people are mad as hel hell. and the politicians that we have all elected to lead this country would rather bicker than actually tackle the trade policies, tax policies, and banking policies that are fundamental to the extraction of resources from this country that are preventing us from the multi-trillion dollar investment that we are desperate in need of for energy, infrastructure, et cetera , that would create the jobs, that would create the prosperity. it's a vicious cycle . leio hendry, you know him and love him, former ceo of a string of fortune 500 companies. if you're yankee fans, you like yes network, and if you enjoy data, at&t broadband will be the band that you'll associate with leo. i, myself, am a data guy, so i think of you every time i do this. you have made a very strong point from the beginning about the order of magnitude of the problem. forget whether everybody agrees with your proposed solutions, whether the government should do it, whether it's the private sector . forget all that. it feels as if our government and our media, for that matter, doesn't even comprehend the order of magnitude of the problem.

    >> you know, you and i have talked for several years now, going all the way back to 2006 , when you were on the floor, mostly, in your career. and if the problem is measured in tens of millions, the solutions demanded of you are quite different if they're measured in hundreds of thousands. and everything that i see and the frustration of congress is because there's simply an unappreciation in congress of the magnitude of the problem, yet it's a problem that women and men see every morning when they get up and look to the right of their home or the left or within their own home. and in the standoff, dylan, that's going on this week is over something as moral, that's disasterly for the 84 communities that have been declared disaster zones, this calendar year alone. 11 months in, 10 months in. and we can't even find the courage to give disaster relief in pennsylvania, new jersey, and coastal carolina and vermont and earlier in arizona and new mexico and california and texas, where mr. perry comes from. so how do people have any confidence that we're going to address the tens of millions of jobs we need to find? and when we talk about sort of bipartisanship, partisanship, in general, i think it's a foolish exercise at this point in time. for 30 years now, there has been little prospect for bipartisanship. when social issues permeated the political fabric, when a woman with's right to choose, pro-life, pro-choice, immigration, gay marriage , when they became insurmountable political issues in the eyes of so many members of congress, how do you have bipartisanship? and where i find the stress with the president is he keeps trying to pretend he can achieve this. so we see these sort of tepid responses around jobs and around other things in this false belief that mitch mcconnell and john boehner are going to come his way. they're never going to come his way. they can't. embedded in their souls, they can't come his way. so why doesn't he speak to the american people and let mr. mcconnell mr. boehner speak to the american people and let us decide whether we want to be on this side of the aisle or on that side of the aisle?

    >> the concern seems to be, though, that because of the -- particularly because of the role of money in politics, that if you have the democrats and republicans agreeing or disagreeing on anything, it's what's never getting talked about, by either party, that really is the issue. and so, i can have this pretend bipartisanship all day, or i can have the very real polarization and extremism all day. but if what is never being talked about is the things that actually create energy efficiency , the things that actually create health, or the things that actually create learning. or the things that actually create investment. and if those things are never discussed, the entire apparatus seems to be not only irrelevant, but a liability.

    >> and it's become more pronounced with citizens united , which introduced even more -- a higher magnitude of moneys into the system, all anonymously. and we're also 13 months away from an election. so you're not going to change the dynamic. so when you come to congress, either as the president or as mr. mcconnell or harry reid or nancy pelosi , come with your best shot , so that women and men who have to run this cycle can go out and say, this is what i stand for. this is my job's agenda, versus that job's agenda. this is my sense of health care reform , not this tepid, highly expensive, very dysfunctional thing we ended up with. give it your best shot . and don't try to get people to come in your direction when it's not going to happen.

    >> but i've seen what you've talked, and i've seen you testify before congress. i've seen your agenda. and you were praising china. you wanted a national industrial policy , very similar to what japan, frankly, has done. we look at japan, that's not a good model. they're paying down all the bad investments they've made for ten years. so when i see someone like you who's made $1.5 million in donations to the democrats over the last decade and want more government management of the economy, does this have to do with the fact this you're so buddy buddy with the politicians that you trust them? i trust the economy working more. 300 million people making individual decisions than harry reid and nancy pelosi and barack obama .

    >> but tim, if we have, as dylan and i just discussed, if we have more than 30 million men and women unemployed in real terms , it's naive to think that the private sector alone can fix it. and it's naive to think that the government sector has an unlimited role in fixing it as well.

    >> but these private/public partnerships end up resulting in ethanol or solyndra or boeing, or e.

    >> but that's the risk.

    >> every time i hear that the reason we don't educate young children properly is because we have bad schools, and when you fix the schools, we'll have a more sensitive employment policies towards those now-educated young people . don't give money to the government, because it doesn't do it very well. well, fix the government. don't back up and say, just because people jaywalk intrinsically in new york where you and i live, we're not going to have a jaywalking statute. this sense of nonregulation, noninvolvement by the federal government , when there are 30 million women and men unemployed today is nonsensical. both people have a role. the private sector , which i am part of. but my criticism of this government, the whole government, is we have 20 nations in the g-20, 19 with an industrial policy we don't.

    >> i'm going to leave it on that note. a wonderful conversation. great to see you, leo. great to see you imogen, sam, and tim.

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