The Senate on Monday evening passed a bill to provide developing countries access to clean drinking water, which almost became a vehicle for a declaration of war earlier this month.
The Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014, sponsored by Sens. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators preview bill to stop tech giants from prioritizing their own products Democrats struggle to gain steam on Biden spending plan Press: Where's Merrick Garland when we need him? MORE (D-Ill.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (R-Tenn.), would improve access to clean water and sanitation around the world.
“Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services sickens and kills thousands of children every day, and leads to poverty across the globe,” Durbin said in a joint statement.
“But this is no longer simply a global health and development issue — it’s a long-term problem that increasingly threatens our national security. The Senate agreed unanimously and passed this legislation today and I hope the President will quickly sign it before the crisis reaches a devastating tipping point.”
In a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulDemocrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Journalist Dave Levinthal discusses 'uptick' in congressional stock trade violations McConnell vows GOP won't help raise debt ceiling in December after Schumer 'tantrum' MORE (R-Ky.) tried to attach a resolution declaring war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to the bill in an attempt to get it passed before Congress recessed for the year. Senators from both parties have voiced frustration about the lack of military authorization against ISIS.
"It was the most bizarre meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that I have ever attended in my life or ever expected to attend," said committee member Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainThe Biden-Harris train wreck may have its savior: 2024 GOP nominee Donald Trump Kelly raises million in third quarter Legislative limbo — how low can they go? MORE (R-Ariz.) afterward.
"A water bill. A nice little water bill, uncontroversial,” McCain said of the Dec. 4 hearing. “An obscure water bill! I mean, you can't make that up! Where in that little book on how the laws are made does it say water bill, get a declaration of war? It's ludicrous. It's a living, breathing argument against lame-duck sessions."
Paul's attempt failed, and the committee passed the bill, which was approved by the full Senate late Monday. It now heads to the president's desk for signature.
“I'm pleased lawmakers from both chambers agree that investing in water can make the most of existing foreign aid resources. These programs bring life-saving water and sanitation to vulnerable people around the globe, helping to support improved health and stability in these communities,” Corker said.
According to the statement, nearly 750 million people around the world lack access to clean, safe water, and nearly 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation, many living on $2 a day.