Michigan Dems highlight Flint with unanimous opposition to CR
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In parting votes of protest, Michigan's Democrats on Wednesday unanimously opposed a short-term spending bill in order to send a clear message to GOP leaders heading into the long October recess: Funding for the Flint water crisis should have been part of the package.
 
"I'm grateful that we made progress, and no ill will toward anyone who worked on the CR. It just should have included Flint," Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) said after voting against the continuing resolution (CR).  
 
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"We talked to each other early on about where we would be on the CR without Flint," Kildee said of his Michigan colleagues, "so we just stuck with that."
 
Although the Democrats, led by Kildee and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), had successfully negotiated the authorization of $170 million for Flint in a separate water bill that passed the House hours earlier, Congress must return to that legislation after November's elections in order to iron out differences between the chambers and get it to the president's desk. 
 
By contrast, the CR included $500 million in emergency funds to help flood victims in Louisiana and several other states — money that will be available immediately. The Michigan Democrats are crying foul over the discrepancy.
 
"The money's not going to come right away to Flint, and we've gotta get the money for the people of Flint," Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) said after opposing the CR.
 
"So it was sending a message that — [while] we need to take care of Zika, we need to take care of Louisiana, we need to take care of Flint."
 
"It's gotta get done," she added. "We've done enough talking; it's time for action."  
 
Rounding out Michigan's Democratic delegation, the other lawmakers voting against the CR were Reps. Sandy Levin, Brenda Lawrence, and John Conyers, the dean of the House.
 
 
The protest votes were no threat to the fate of the CR, which passed the House 342-85 and the Senate by a count of 72-26. A failure of Congress to act would have resulted in the shuttering of large parts of the federal government on Saturday.
 
But the lawmakers wanted to highlight their objections that Flint wasn't included in the CR — and to remind GOP leaders of their vows to provide Flint funding in the lame-duck session. 
 
“To be clear, I strongly support continuing to fund the government and believe there are many good policies in this CR," Peters said on the Senate floor. "[But] I could not support a government spending bill that will, once again, force the citizens of Flint to wait on the help they so desperately need." 
 
 
Behind Michigan's lawmakers, the Democrats say they'll be pushing for the Senate's Flint language, which appropriated $220 million and included an offset.
 
"Our goal, or course, will be to get the WRDA language in the Senate," Kildee said. "The Senate language includes the appropriation with the pay-for, so that's the language that we'll go to. 
 
"It was really important that the House act, though, to send a strong message as we go into conference," he added. "That really positions us to get this thing [enacted]."
 
The debate has, for the moment, turned the two-term Kildee into something of a celebrity on Capitol Hill. Just before the CR vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) took the floor and praised him for being "an absolute lion" throughout the Flint fight. Just after the vote, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) walked off the floor and offered Kildee his hand.
 
"Governor," Meadows quipped. "Congratulations!"
 
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) strolled by a moment later and gave Kildee a hug.
 
Kildee was demure. "My buddies," he said.