After weeks of Congressional dreams of an early departure, Congress is now in a race to make sure the government does not shut down on October 1. No one is really expecting a shutdown but the process has gone on for weeks after leaders had floated the possibility of an early departure. On Thursday, September 22, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) unveiled a CR that would extend funding with the bill HR 5325. The bill may be a placeholder as the sides continue to push back and forth on a deal.
The sticking points include whether or not the Congress will agree to provide some relief to help address the city of Flint’s lead drinking water exposure. Some Democrats believe that if the funding for Flint is not included in the CR it will not happen. House Republicans have insisted they will deal with the help for Flint after the election. At the same time, they are insisting on emergency funding to address the floods in Louisiana to be provided now.
The McConnell bill includes $500 million in emergency funding for Louisiana and it also requires offsets for the Zika funding (the President had requested emergency funding). It includes a small increase of $37 million for the CARA Act, the drug abuse legislation enacted earlier this summer. Despite saying there would be no riders on the bill, the Senate CR continues a policy rider that prohibits the Securities and Exchange Commission from completing a rule that would require disclosure of campaign contributions by corporations.
The CR would run until December 9, as agreed to several weeks ago. The Congress has until Saturday to act or face a shutdown. The biggest force against such a shutdown is the pending election with a knowledge that government shutdowns are never winners as far as polling and votes in November.