Stop-gap bill to avoid government shutdown fails Senate procedural vote

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 27, 2016 2:50 PM

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A stop-gap funding bill to avoid a federal government shutdown later this week failed to garner enough votes to move forward in the Senate on Tuesday, with Democrats and Republicans both opposing the measure.

The must-pass continuing resolution, or CR, which would keep federal agencies operating from Saturday through Dec. 9, received only 45 of the 60 votes needed to limit debate and be considered for passage by the 100-seat Republican-controlled Senate.

Forty Democrats and two independents opposed the CR because it lacked a $220 million aid package to address the drinking-water crisis in Flint, Michigan. It also drew opposition from 13 Republicans.

Senate leaders said they would explore alternatives to avoid a shutdown.

Without an extension, many federal agencies will run out of operating funds when the government fiscal year expires at midnight on Friday.

The bill includes $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and other states.

"This is a 10-week funding bill. Its contents command broad support. It contains zero controversial riders," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said before the vote.

Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives vowed to oppose the resolution until Republicans agree to a Flint aid package that the Senate passed by a 95-3 margin this month as part of a separate water resources bill.

Flint, a city with over 100,000 people, has had lead-tainted drinking water for more than two years.

Democrats, who say it is unfair to aid flood-ravaged areas and not Flint, want Republicans to include Flint aid in the CR or a version of the water resources bill that the House will vote on this week. Republicans say they will consider Flint later. Both sides say the aid package is paid for.

"There is no excuse - none - for not including this provision," said Senator Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat.

McConnell told reporters he would consider the possibility of removing the flood-relief provision from the CR to win support from Democrats.

"Let's see him do it," Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said when asked about McConnell's remarks.

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, the former Republican presidential candidate, voted against the CR a week after he tried unsuccessfully to add a provision preventing oversight of the internet's technical management from being transferred on Oct. 1 to a global community of stakeholders.

(Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Peter Cooney)