Congress adopted a continuing resolution that will provide temporary FY ’17 funding to December 9. The CR was passed on Wednesday, September 28 and Congress adjourned until the November elections.
The action came after a deal was struck on providing $170 million for Flint drinking water crisis. The Flint funding will not be adopted until after the election as part of a separate bill that deals with water resources. The CR includes some funding ($1.1 billion) to address the Zika virus targeting Florida and Puerto Rico. It also provides $500 million emergency spending flood relief for the state of Louisiana as well as $17 million to HHS and $20 million to the Department of Justice as a small down payment on some of the new provisions that were enacted through the CARA or Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act passed earlier this past summer.
The CR, HR 5325 was passed by the Senate by a vote of 77 to 21 (with both Michigan Senators voting no) and later that evening passed the House by a vote of 342 to 85. The Democrats had held out earlier in the week when the CR had provided the flood relief but had left out the Flint funding which Democrats had been seeking since the start of this year. Senate and House leaders had said they would provide the Flint funding after the election as part of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). Democrats were reluctant because, although the Senate had adopted a WRDA with the Flint funds, the House Committee bill did not. The deal was struck when the House took up their version of the WRDA and voted for an amendment to the bill that does now include the Flint funding. The House and Senate bills will now be conferenced with Flint funding in both bills and as such it should be a part of a final bill to be adopted after the November elections. The actions were enough to convince Democrats in both the Senate and House.
The Congress is now gone until after the November election. They likely will return the week after the election (November 14 and 15) to take up organizational issues and leadership choices for the 115th Congress. The bulk of the real legislating will likely will occur in December. Front and center will be a decision on appropriation for the rest of FY 2017. They will also have an opportunity to address a series of other matters such as a reauthorization of Title IV-B programs, a reauthorization of the JJDPA, the WRDA and possible other matters.