Obama signs spending bill to keep government open after Congress agrees to Flint aid

The House of Representatives passed the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) on Wednesday in a 399-to-25 vote, authorizing federal funds for numerous water facility infrastructure projects in the U.S., including $170 million to subsidize the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich.

The authorization of federal relief dollars in WRDA for the city of Flint was the result of a compromise between Congressional Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday that allowed the Senate to pass a continuing resolution (CR) which will keep the federal government funded until Dec. 9.

On Tuesday, Senate Democrats blocked the CR from coming to the floor in 55-45 procedural vote because it did not include appropriations for Flint and House Republicans had not included any relief money in its original WRDA bill.

A deal was struck on Tuesday evening however, when House leadership agreed to allow an WRDA amendment by Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.), which called for federal subsidies, to be brought for floor vote Wednesday.  In exchange, Senate Democrats agreed to support the CR, which passed 72-26 earlier in the day.

“(The WRDA deal will) create a concrete commitment from both bodies of Congress to get aid to my hometown, for my hometown, to the president’s desk,” said Kildee.

President Obama signed the CR into law Thursday, averting a government shutdown that was set to go into effect Saturday if a compromise had not been reached. The stopgap measure includes $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and $500 million for emergency flood relief.

The respective Senate and House water bills will be reconciled during Congress’ lame-duck session, scheduled to commence after the Nov. 8 election.

The Senate’s WRDA includes appropriations totaling $220 million to assist localities across the country with lead water issues, with funds going to help cover the costs of replacing corroded water pipes in Flint. The House version, conversely, only authorizes subsidies for the Michigan city alone and is not guaranteed.

However, Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), vowed on the House floor Wednesday that WRDA’s compromise bill will include aid for new water infrastructure in Flint.

 

[The Hill] [Roll Call] [Washington Post] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via Esquire]