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House, Senate Race for CR Upper Hand

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that the Senate is expected to vote this morning on a continuing resolution the House passed earlier this morning.

“We expect a vote fairly quickly,” the Nevada Democrat said.

Senate Democratic leaders have pledged to vote down the bill and to work into next week. Both chambers are scheduled to be in recess next week.

However, House GOP leaders are looking to adjourn today in an effort to force the Senate to accept their CR.

According to a Senate Democratic leadership aide, Democrats have tried to convey to Speaker John Boehner’s office that the votes are not there in the Senate for the House bill and have offered to negotiate a solution. But the aide said the Speaker’s office has not returned calls or emails, leading the aide to speculate that the lack of communication is part of the Ohio Republican’s negotiating strategy.

House GOP aides dismissed that idea, saying clerks were working as fast as they could to finish the bill and send it to the Senate.

The Senate is prepared to forgo its recess and work into next week to pass a compromise measure, the Senate Democratic leadership aide said.

House GOP leaders were unmoved.

“You saw the House act,” said Majority Leader Eric Cantor as he left the Capitol this morning after the CR vote. “We are intending that the money gets to FEMA and to disaster victims as they need it.

“I think Harry Reid’s political ploy is not going to work,” the Virginia Republican continued.

Asked if he thinks the House will be in session next week, Cantor said, “No. The plan is for us to finish our work [Friday].”

The end of the 2011 fiscal year is Sept. 30. The House CR would fund the government through Nov. 18.

Senate Democrats argue that the House measure would not provide enough in disaster aid, and they oppose the House’s inclusion offsets to pay for disaster relief.

The House bill includes $3.6 billion for disaster aid. The Senate passed a bill last week, with the help of 10 Republican Senators, which would provide nearly $7 billion for disaster relief. But it is uncertain whether those GOP Senators would again vote with Democrats given the opportunity to vote for the House CR.

The House bill also offsets about $1.1 billion of the $3.6 billion, which Democrats contend politicizes the process and results in delaying relief to victims. The offsets come from a pair of environmental loan programs, including one that funded the embattled solar panel firm Solyndra, a firm to which Republicans have accused the White House of improperly providing preferential treatment.

John Stanton contributed to this report.

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