Ahead of a Possible Shutdown, House Republicans Try to Avoid Voting for Flint Water Aid

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

We're three days away from a possible government shutdown with a vote on a continuing resolution to keep the government running scheduled for today, but it's not clear if the continuing resolution will pass on the first try.

A significant number of congressional Democrats, perhaps even enough to prevent it from passing, have expressed their opposition to the continuing resolution because it includs relief funding for flood victims but it does not include relief funding for the people of Flint, Michigan who still have no clean running water.

House Republican leadership says relief funding for Flint wasn't included in the continuing resolution because it should be attached to a water resources bill, but they don't actually have any plans to attach it to that bill.

House GOP leaders contend that they want to address the Michigan water crisis in the so-called Water Resources Development Act, not the short-term bill, known as a continuing resolution. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Flint “should be dealt with in the WRDA bill,” and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday that the water resources bill was “the best place” to address it.

So it is perhaps curious that House Republicans are trying to move the bill without Flint aid. “The sooner we get the WRDA bill through in the House, the sooner we can begin conference,” McCarthy said.

Democrats are not inclined to trust that aid for the people of Flint will be included in the water resources bill advanced by the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee because the House Rules Committee could strike the provision from the bill because other committees are responsible for appropriations. The Infrastructure Committee does not have that authority.

In short, if aid isn't added to the continuing resolution, it may not be passed at all before the end of the current session of Congress or at least not until after the November election.

My gut says Republicans will blink and add relief funding to the continuing resolution, but it could be the 11th hour on Friday before that happens.