With the economy sputtering, the warring factions of Congress have lurched toward gridlock over the usually noncontroversial process of approving disaster aid and keeping the government from shutting down.
The GOP-dominated House early Friday muscled through a $3.7 billion disaster aid measure along with a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running past next Friday. The narrow 219-203 tally reversed an embarrassing loss for House GOP leaders that came Wednesday at the hands of rebellious tea party Republicans.
Even before the House vote, however, the leader of the Senate promised that majority Democrats will scuttle the measure as soon as it reaches the chamber on Friday. Democrats there want a much larger infusion of disaster aid and they're angry over cuts totaling $1.6 trillion from clean energy programs - and the strong-arm tactics being tried by the House.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the House plan "is not an honest effort at compromise. ... It will be rejected by the Senate."
The combination of events promises to push the partisan war into the weekend and could increase the chances that the government's main disaster aid account at the Federal Emergency Management Agency might run dry early next week.