Latest Spending Bill Lacks Democratic Support

     WASHINGTON (CN) – Senate Republicans proposed a short-term spending bill Thursday that would fund the government into December and free up money to fight the Zika virus, but Democrats oppose it because it provides no money for Flint’s leaded-water crisis.
     The stop-gap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, would fund the government at current levels through Dec. 9 and includes money to fight against the Zika virus as well as aid to victims of floods in Maryland, West Virginia and Louisiana.
     It also gives funding for legislation to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic and for a separate veterans funding bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor when introducing the resolution.
     “There have been broad requests for a clean resolution,” McConnell said. “So that’s what I’ve just offered. It’s the result of many, many hours of bipartisan work across the aisle.”
     The package McConnell offered Thursday afternoon is a substitute to a previously advanced “shell” bill into which the continuing resolution was meant to be placed.
     Lawmakers will have four days to consider the resolution before any more action is taken, McConnell said.
     Though the Zika funding, as well as the axing of a Sen. Ted Cruz-backed provision to keep control of the Internet in the hands of the United States, are concessions to Democrats, the resolution is not entirely popular across the aisle.
     Shortly after McConnell introduced the resolution, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, took to the floor to bash the offering for not including aid for the tainted-water crisis in Flint, Mich.
     “The majority leader has filed a Republican-only bill, the substitute that has now been placed before the Senate today,” Mikulski said on the floor. “We Democrats cannot vote for that substitute and urge others to vote against it. What we want to be sure is that we avoid a government shutdown and a government showdown and continue the constructive talks that we’ve had. But the substitute offered by the Republican majority leader falls short.”
     The Senate last week passed a water bill that included money for Flint, but the House has yet to take up the legislation and it is not clear whether the Flint funding would even be included in its version of the bill.
     Mikulski said including Flint funding in the continuing resolution would be a faster, more certain way to get money flowing to the struggling city.
     She promised lawmakers would continue negotiating the “handful of issues” that are blocking Democrats from falling in line behind the proposed resolution.
     Michigan Democrat Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who has been a vocal advocate for giving federal money to Flint, also blasted the Republican proposal, calling the funding “urgently needed.”
     “Today’s government funding proposal from Senate Republicans is unacceptable,” Stabenow said in a statement. “Help for Flint is fully paid-for and just passed with 95 votes in the Senate. There’s no reason we cannot include urgently needed funding for Flint – as well as for Louisiana – in the funding bill. Flint families have waited long enough.”
     The Senate faces a Sept. 30 deadline to pass the spending agreement, leaving lawmakers a little more than a week to negotiate a deal.

%d bloggers like this: