At issue was a short-term bill to fund government agencies through November 18 that would allocate fewer resources to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers for disaster response than the Democratic-led Senate approved last week.
Additional funds are needed because of recent major floods from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee along the East Coast, and wildfires in Texas that required emergency responses exceeding the amount the agencies have left in their coffers to support recovery and rebuilding efforts.
The House measure included a total of $3.6 billion in disaster relief money -- $1 billion in emergency funds available when the bill is enacted and another $2.6 billion to be budgeted for those federal response agencies for the 2012 fiscal year that begins October 1.
In addition, House Republican leaders are insisting that the $1 billion in immediate disaster funding be offset with $1.5 billion in cuts to a loan program that helps automakers retool their operations to make more fuel-efficient cars.
Democrats objected to cutting spending for disaster funding, calling it unprecedented and politicizing emergency relief for Americans. Conservative Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, argued that the nation's expanding deficits require as much spending restraint as possible.
Earlier this month, President Barack Obama asked Congress for a total of $5.1 billion in additional disaster aid --- $500 million of which was for immediate relief.