The Senate rejected a short-term funding bill for the government backed by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after 13 Republicans joined nearly the entire Democratic caucus in voting no.

The 45-55 vote leaves Congress facing an uncertain path to prevent a government shutdown. Without a new funding law in place, the government would shut down on Saturday. 

{mosads}Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) were the only Democrats to support the continuing resolution (CR). Other Democrats objected that the package keeping the government operating through Dec. 9 included no money for Flint, Michigan.

The dozen Republicans who voted against the measure did so for a variety of reasons. They were joined by McConnell, who voted no to preserve his ability to offer the measure again.

 

GOP Sens. Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.), James Inhofe (Okla.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), David Perdue (Ga.), Ben Sasse (Neb.), Tim Scott (S.C.) and Jeff Sessions (Ala.) were the other Republican no votes.

 

Democrats are digging in on their demand that funding for Flint be included in the spending bill, which already includes emergency help for flood victims in Louisiana, Maryland and West Virginia.

Democrats, while stressing they don’t oppose the flood aid, argue any short-term funding bill shouldn’t include the flood money unless it also helps Flint.

McConnell didn’t shut the door to dropping the flood money from the stopgap bill, saying, “that’s certainly an option.” 

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) shot down a question about whether Democrats would be satisfied with a promise from McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to pass the Flint aid in a lame-duck session after the election.

“No, if he wants to make that promise to Flint make him make the same promise to Louisiana,” Durbin said. 

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) added in a separate press conference that, “if the rational is that a water issue in Flint should be in [Water Resources Development Act], then a water issue in Louisiana should be in WRDA as well.” 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) didn’t close the door to the Louisiana aid being moved to the water bill.

“It’s important to a number of states, including my state,” the Texas Republican said. “That’s what the bill has in it now, and we’ll see how the Democrats vote.”  

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), noting he was opposed to removing the flood money, said he was aware of the Democratic objections. 

“Why do you feel you have to punish people in Louisiana … for Flint when there’s a pathway forward on Flint through the WRDA bill?” he said.

The stalemate over Flint comes after the Senate version of WRDA passed earlier this month included $220 million to address water infrastructure improvements in Flint. 

But the House measure does not have Flint aid provisions, meaning the two chambers would have to resolve the issue in conference committee negotiations after the election.  

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) hinted that Democrats could accept a written agreement on Flint aid from Republican leadership.  

“We need more than just vague promises,” Boxer told reporters. “They can commit to us in writing that they can absolutely agree to our provisions. We don’t have any of that.”  

But Democrats appeared split on what would need to be in such a deal. 

Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), while noting the CR isn’t the only vehicle for the Flint aid, also set a high bar for an agreement: the president’s signature.  

“The writing would be the president signing the bill,” he told reporters. 

The White House on Tuesday backed up Democratic demands for the Flint funding to be added to the bill. 

“The president has made clear for moths that Congress needs to act to provide resources to the community of Flint,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

Earnest noted the emergency funding in the Senate CR for Louisiana, Maryland and other states recovering from flooding. 

“The president believes Congress should do the same thing for Flint and other communities dealing with those challenges.” 

This story was updated at 5:58 p.m.

Tags Barbara Boxer Bill Nelson Dean Heller Debbie Stabenow Dick Durbin James Inhofe Jeff Sessions Joe Donnelly Joe Manchin John Cornyn Jon Tester Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Rand Paul Ted Cruz Tim Scott

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