Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said he is confident Congress will be able to to resolve outstanding issues with the continuing resolution.
The Nevada Democrat said he has discussed an agreement on assistance for the Michigan city of Flint with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and he has received assurances from leadership that money for Flint’s water contamination crisis will be provided in a lame-duck session of Congress after the elections.
“I’m convinced that there’s going to be help for Flint in the lame duck,” Reid said on the Senate floor. “Now I feel very comfortable.” Fiscal 2016 funding runs out after Friday and members of Congress have been negotiating a stopgap spending bill that would run until Dec. 9.
Leaders are nearing the endgame of a deal that would allow a 10-week stopgap spending measure to pass both chambers as soon as Thursday.
The House plans to clear the CR late Wednesday or early Thursday and then leave town. The Senate on Wednesday approved continued funding into December in a 72-26 vote.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the stopgap-Flint agreement a positive sign, signaling the president’s support, according to a pool reporter traveling with Obama in Richmond.
With Democratic leaders expressing comfort moving forward with a CR without Flint aid, enough Senate Democrats should be able to join Republicans in advancing the must-pass government funding bill.
But for the two Democratic Michigan senators, the deal is not enough to get them to vote for the CR because residents of Flint are still left waiting for assistance, while flood victims in Louisiana are being addressed in the proposal.
“My position on the government funding bill remains the same: I will vote no on any CR that does not treat communities equally,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow said in a statememt. “It is wrong to ask families in Flint to wait at the back of the line again.”
The junior senator from Michigan, Gary Peters, echoed that sentiment.
“I have said that Congress can and should help both flood victims and Flint residents, and I cannot support a government funding bill that prioritizes one state’s emergency over another’s,” he said in a statement.
Peters described himself as “cautiously optimistic” about a deal struck late Tuesday night that should allow a shutdown-averting stopgap to move Wednesday and a water resources conference panel to reach an agreement later on Flint funding.
Lindsey McPherson and John Bennett contributed to this report.