After helping to block two procedural votes Tuesday afternoon that would have advanced a spending package needed to keep the government running on Oct. 1, Senate Democrats are waiting to see if Republicans will give in to their demands to extend assistance to Flint, Mich.
Following the votes, Senate Republicans said they would consider stripping emergency flood relief for Louisiana and other states from the legislation to address Democrats’ concerns. Democrat’s primary objection to the legislation had been that it includes emergency funding for Louisiana and other states to deal with flooding but fails to provide aid to fix Flint’s lead-contaminated water supply.
The spending package includes a continuing resolution (CR) that would extend funding for the federal government through Dec. 9, $1.1 billion in emergency spending to combat the Zika virus, $500 million in flood relief for Louisiana and other states, and a full-year appropriations bill for military construction and Veterans Affairs.
Republican leaders have said that a separate water resources authorization bill would be more appropriate to address Flint’s needs. But Democrats have balked at waiting, as there is no guarantee the final version of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) will include funding to upgrade the city’s water supply.
Democrats’ objections may be overcome, however, after the House votes Wednesday on its version of WRDA. Late Tuesday night, the House Rules Committee accepted an amendment to the measure providing $170 million in aid for Flint, Mich., to address its drinking water crisis, reported CQ Roll Call. The Senate version of the legislation already includes $220 million for the city.
If the House adopts the new amendment and approves the underlying bill, both chambers would have Flint aid in their water resources bills. That could break the impasse in the Senate and prompt Democrats to advance the current version of the CR, according to the story.