WASHINGTON (AP) — The short-term spending bill to prevent the government from shutting down is, to be honest, the only thing lawmakers really have to do before exiting Washington for the fall campaign.
But this year, the once simple job of passing temporary legislation has instead morphed into an object lesson in Congress' almost comical dysfunction. A campaign season shutdown is unlikely, even as a battle rages, but the path to success is unclear.
Lawmakers alike see the bill — the only major legislation that President Barack Obama is likely to sign before Election Day — as a vehicle for a variety of hoped-for initiatives: Funding to help Flint, Michigan, fix its lead-tainted water system; give flood-ravaged Louisiana aid and provide long-overdue money to battle the mosquito-borne Zika virus.
In the end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., opted for a stripped-down approach, shorn of most add-ons, though he approved a $500 million down-payment on flood aid to Louisiana — a move that upset Democrats demanding money for Flint. Now, Democrats are vowing to filibuster the must-do measure in a showdown vote on Tuesday.
The White House said Friday it's not certain that Obama would sign the budget bill, reflecting the administration's disappointment about the money for Flint.
Here's what's in and what's out of the GOP measure:
—Stopgap funding to keep the government open through Dec. 9. The move is opposed by some conservatives since it opens the door to a postelection, lame-duck session that they fear might feature a sausage-making process that could produce an omnibus spending bill and other legislation. But there are too many leftovers, and many decisions won't get made until they know who the next president will be.
—Zika. The bill contains $1.1 billion to combat the threat of the Zika virus, which can cause significant birth defects and long-term health problems. Republicans have dropped contentious provisions to block anti-Zika funds from going to Planned Parenthood affiliates in Puerto Rico and ease Clean Water Act rules on pesticide spraying. It also contains a handful of mostly pain-free budget cuts to partially pay for the Zika aid.
At least one Democrat is on board. "While I support the people of Flint, my priority is the people of Florida," said Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida. "This bill provides a clean $1.1 billion to help stop the spread of Zika virus with no political riders, and I will support it."
—Louisiana flood aid. Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, and the state's GOP-dominated congressional delegation have won $500 million in community development grants to help Louisiana recover from last month's devastating floods. The flood aid wasn't controversial on its own, but Democrats say that if Louisiana gets flood relief, money for Flint should be added as well.
—Corporate political giving. The bill retains a top McConnell priority, to block the SEC from requiring corporations to disclose political spending permitted under the Supreme Court's 2010 decision allowing unlimited political spending by businesses. That would extend a current ban that McConnell won last December — but that Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and other Democrats were eager to reverse.
—Flint water. Democrats are demanding $220 million to help Flint and other cities repair aging water systems that are poisoned by lead. Many House Republicans are opposed to the idea of an earmark to help Flint, but the state's Republican governor shares responsibility for the city's problems, and it's a hot political topic in a state that GOP nominee Donald Trump hopes to reclaim from Democrats. Senior Democrats promise a filibuster in an effort to add money for Flint to the bill, but both sides hope subsequent negotiations could avert a shutdown.
—Export-Import Bank. The Export-Import Bank, which finances purchases of U.S. goods from overseas buyers, is currently hobbled because it lacks enough board members to produce a quorum. It can't OK export deals exceeding $10 million, which is hurting top exporters like Boeing and General Electric.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina is breaking with McConnell and opposing the bill over the omission of the Export-Import Bank.
"We need a fully functioning Ex-Im Bank to help ensure American manufacturers are able to compete in the international marketplace on a level playing field," Graham said in a statement.
—Internet domains. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump both demanded that the measure include a provision to block the U.S. government from transferring the U.S. Commerce Department's role in governing the internet's domain name addressing systems to a nonprofit consortium known as ICANN.
Cruz said foreign governments such as China would potentially gain influence over content on the internet. Experts in the field, however, said his concerns were mostly groundless, and McConnell dismissed the proposal without public fanfare.