Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., aren't content with their record low approval rating.

They seem to be doing everything in their power to seal the deal as the absolute worst Congress.


Just weeks after taking the country to the brink over raising the debt ceiling -- a fiasco that caused Standard & Poor's to lower the country's credit rating for the first time and rocked the already shaky financial world -- the two parties are again playing chicken.

But this time it's not our sterling Triple A rating in the balance.

Now it's victims of natural disasters.

For weeks now Congress has been sparring over a temporary funding measure, a bridge to keep the government running when the fiscal year ends at midnight Friday.

Failure to do so would mean a government shutdown, which is bad enough.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency was also warning it would run out of money before then, jeopardizing aid to victims of the historic East Coast floods that followed Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee.

FEMA's coffers were expected to be empty by today.

But once again, what has been an ordinary order of business in the past became mired in partisan game playing, with House Republicans demanding that any new disaster aid for the current fiscal year be offset with cuts elsewhere.

That's not a bad idea, but it usually has not been a condition of such relief.

The House passed that spending bill and sent it to the Senate.


Not surprisingly, the Democratic-controlled Senate last Friday chose the highway rather than the GOP way.

As it turned out, FEMA, which had been prioritizing aid since before Irene hit, said Monday it had enough money -- just enough -- to make it through the current fiscal year, eliminating any need for cuts elsewhere.

Given the latest information, the Senate overwhelmingly approved a temporary funding measure.

Unfortunately, the House still needs to sign off on the deal, so no one should breathe easy just yet.

And that task has been made more complicated since its members skipped town for recess before the job was done.

We believe, however, the bill will be signed, albeit again in the maddeningly rancorous, last-minute fashion this Congress seems to do everything.

We have enough crises in this country; we don't need to manufacture more.

Honestly, if our lawmakers can't put aside partisan politics and rally around victims of disasters, we have little hope they're up to the truly formidable tasks -- jumpstarting the economy, creating jobs, reining in our debt.

These are extraordinary times, and we need extraordinary leaders to see us through.

Sadly, the ones we have consistently fall well short.