Friday, September 23, 2016

Government Funding Talks Stall Ahead of Next Week's Shutdown Deadline

File under: Phony drama

Eight days before a critical deadline, congressional negotiations over government funding stalled Thursday, prompting Senate Republicans to force a vote on a bill that Democrats warned they would reject, reports CNN.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, went to the Senate floor and announced the GOP would drop several thorny issues -- known as "riders" -- that still need to be resolved. The tactic was designed to pressure Democrats to accept what McConnell called a "clean" government funding bill.

"There have been broad requests for a clean continuing resolution. So that's what I've just offered. It's the result of many, many hours of bipartisan work across the aisle," McConnell said when he filed the GOP bill. "It's a fair proposal that funds all current government operations through December 9."

According to CNN, the GOP proposal was immediately panned by Democrats because it left out funds for Flint, Michigan, where the drinking water supply was poisoned by lead in the past year. If the chamber's 46 Democrats stick together, they can block the bill from advancing.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi criticized the Republican proposal, saying "it falls very short."

On Thursday night, however, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, reports CNN, became the first Democrat to publicly say he will support the bill because it offers Zika funding, a priority for his state.

In addition to funding the government at current levels for the next three months, the measure offered by McConnell includes $1.1 billion to combat Zika, $500 million to respond to flooding in Louisiana and elsewhere, and $37 million to battle the opioid epidemic through the recently enacted Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.

McConnell said there are four days to consider the bill before any votes take place.


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