Updated 4:31 p.m. with bill passing in the Senate
The Senate has approved a $7 billion bill to replenish nearly empty federal disaster aid accounts. The vote was 62-37.
The legislation still faces opposition from Republicans controlling the House. They promise action on a competing plan in the House next week that would provide $3.7 billion in disaster aid.
The House measure is attached to a bill needed to avert a government shutdown, and that may give Republicans an edge in the partisan dispute.
The House-Senate battle comes as the government's main disaster account is at risk of running out of money before the end of September.
If the fund runs out, the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have to suspend aid to victims of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.
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Missouri Senator Roy Blunt is emphasizing the importance of Congress approving $7 billion in disaster relief.
According to the Associated Press, the measure would immediately give the Federal Emergency Management Agency half a billion dollars to replenish its dwindling disaster aid account, $4.6 billion for 2012 as requested by President Obama and $1.3 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control projects.
Blunt says he spoke on the Senate floor Thursday in favor of the bill.
"Talking about the importance of, one, understanding when we truly do have a disaster that reaches national disaster proportions and that states and communities can't deal with it. And, two, being sure that when those natural disasters occur, the federal government understands it's time to step in," Blunt said.
There have been numerous natural disasters across the country this year including the May 22 tornado in Joplin that killed 162 people and destroyed a third of the city.