Facing shutdown, Durbin urges Congress to fund disaster aid

September 26, 2011

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said lawmakers need to fund disaster relief in order to avert a partial government shutdown.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Monday afternoon on a measure that would keep the government running into November. Some Republicans say more money for disaster aid must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget. But Durbin said he disagrees.

"It makes no sense for us to answer a natural disaster by making an economic disaster even worse in this country," Durbin told reporters at an unrelated press event. "So what we need to do is come together: find a way to pay for these disasters which will not kill jobs in Illinois and across America."

As of Monday afternoon, there was $114 million dollars left in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster relief fund, according to a FEMA spokeswoman. The agency estimates that could run out near the end of this week, at which point FEMA would have to shut down relief efforts, including grant money to disaster victims.

Meanwhile, a spokesman says U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., supports making spending cuts in order to pay for disaster relief.

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