As expected, the Senate has blocked a House-passed bill that would provide disaster aid and pay to keep federal agencies open, escalating the latest partisan clash over spending. The near-party line vote of 59-36 set up a fresh round of brinksmanship between the Senate and the Republican-run House. A government fund for disaster victims will run out of money early next week, and government agencies would have to close if Congress does not finance them by Oct. 1. Lawmakers may have to cancel next week's planned recess to try to resolve the dispute.
The House passed legislation early today to fund government agencies and provide $3.7 billion in disaster assistance. That aid would be partly paid for with cuts in two loan programs that finance technological development. Democrats complained that the House measure was too stingy and said cutting the loan programs would kill jobs. (Read more Senate stories.)