In the eleventh hour before breaking for the election recess, both chambers approved legislation to fund the government through December 9th and address key issues that had stalled its earlier passage.
Wednesday afternoon the Senate passed its stopgap funding measure with a 72-26 vote; the bill would include a prominent $1.1 billion towards combating Zika as well as $500 million to states suffering from natural disasters, along with its primary function of funding the government and avoiding shutdown. Initially met with resistance from House Democrats, a bipartisan Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) pushed the bill forward.
On Wednesday evening the House passed the aforementioned WRDA to address the crisis in Flint, Michigan with federal funding that will go towards drinking water infrastructure and aid. The bill passed overwhelmingly with a 399-25 vote, after an added amendment detailing $170 million in aid passed 284-141. The House version differs from the Senate version, in that the House version authorizes the spending and the Senate is looking to appropriate funding. The House WRDA will be part of a much larger conference for the Senate’s package that includes Army Corps of Engineers projects, transportation and environmental restoration provisions. Look for this conference to happen when Congress returns after the election, as well as further discussion on the specifics of the Flint crisis.
The WRDA significantly opened the way for an agreement to clear the impasse between the two chambers after clever work from House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. The final bill passed with a 72-26 vote from the Senate and 342-85 in the House.
The quick and decisive movement of this bill is coming directly following both chambers’ vote to override the president’s veto of the Saudi Arabia bill, which allows for families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia.
Senators and Representatives, having tied up all loose ends last night, will now make their way back to the campaign trail to focus on elections, and will return to the Hill during the lame-duck session in November after the election.