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Budget Debate Could Impact Bastrop

Photo by Jeff Heimsath
Bastrop County wildfire victims have been making applications to FEMA for disaster relief. But the government's emergency aid program could run out of money sometime this coming week.

A growing impasse on Capitol Hill could have ramifications for victims of the Bastrop County wildfires.

The U.S. Senate's vote to block a House spending bill reportedly came down to a question of whether to pull money from a loan program to build alternative fuel cars, in order to pay for disaster relief. Majority Democrats in the Senate argued that the $1.5 billion is better spent on the loan program, arguing that the program creates jobs in places, like Michigan, hit hard by economic instability in the Rust Belt.. Earlier this week, fiscally-conservative House Republicans told their party's leadership "no" to a similar measure, joining with Democrats to reject the proposal.

With no stopgap spending bill in place, the New York Times reports that the $175 million emergency fund to aid disaster victims could be out of cash as soon as Tuesday. It's still unclear how that would impact victims of this month's wildfires that destroyed over 1,600 homes in Bastrop County.

Democrats want the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program kept intact, because they say it brings jobs to job-strapped states, like Michigan. Governor Rick Perry has taken his GOP presidential campaign to Michigan this weekend, speaking to the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, where jobs are a key issue.

What's also unclear is what the federal government will use for money to pay employees without a stopgap funding measure. Without it, the government could partially shut down at midnight next Friday night.

Ian Crawford joined KUT as News Editor in 2008, after spending over four years as a reporter/anchor at KLBJ Radio in Austin. He began his broadcasting career while still in high school in Southern Oregon. During high school and college at the University of Oregon, he worked at times as a reporter, news anchor, sports play-by-play reporter, music host and commercial producer before moving to Texas in 2003.