WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats blocked Tuesday a Republican bill to fund the government and battle Zika because it did not include money for Flint, Michigan, to address the city’s drinking water crisis.
The action comes three days before Friday’s midnight deadline when agencies are set to run out of money and left congressional leaders searching for a compromise bill that could get enough votes to pass and head off an election season government shutdown.
Needing 60 votes to pass, the measure failed 45-55. While several GOP senators also voted against the measure, it was the solid block on “nay” votes from Democrats that halted the bill.
One possible solution was suggested by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who said he might drop flood money for Louisiana and other states to satisfy Democrats who insisted they would not support emergency disaster aid for some states while leaving Flint behind.
Democrats didn’t immediately say if they would accept the GOP proposal.
Senate Republicans, who earlier this month overwhelmingly backed a major water projects bill that included $220 million for Flint, said they would push the Republicans who control the House to do the same. But Democrats said without an iron-clad agreement, the Flint funds would pass the House they would continue to block the short-term government funding bill.