Yesterday afternoon, the House rejected (195Y-230N) a FY2012 Continuing Resolution (CR) bill that would keep the government operating until November 18, 2011. 

The proposed CR would fund government agencies between October 1 and November 18 at a rate of $1.043 trillion, the amount for FY2012 set in the Budget Control Act of 2011.  The House bill also included $3.65 billion in disaster relief assistance and required $1.5 billion of that amount to be offset by cutting funding for the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.

The bill failed because some conservative Republicans think the bill’s funding level was too high and most Democrats think the disaster assistance funding level was too low and should not be offset.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) had pressed the republican rank and file hard to support the bill’s FY2012 funding level, but in the end 48 Republicans voted against the bill.  They pushed for a CR funding level that was closer to the FY2012 House Budget Resolution of $1.019 trillion.

Many House Democrats had initially indicated their reluctant support for the bill, but under pressure from their leaders all but six Democrats voted against the bill.  They wanted the bill’s disaster funding level to be closer to the amount passed by the Senate and rejected the idea that any such funding should be offset by cuts to other programs.  .  Earlier this month, the Senate passed a bill that provided $6.95 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance.  The Senate bill does not include cuts in other programs to offset any of this funding. 

Now, Republican leaders must find a way to garner enough support to pass the bill soon so they can avoid a government shutdown.  The House leaders want to adhere to the $1.043 trillion funding level in the Budget Control Act, so it seems they will try to adjust the disaster assistance funding to gain the necessary Democrat support.  The trick will be to gain enough Democrat support without losing additional Republicans. 

FY2012 does not begin until Saturday, October 1, but both the House and Senate plan to be on recess next week. So House leaders are under extreme pressure to come up with a strategy to pass the bill and send it to the Senate before this weekend.