Averting an election-year crisis, Congress late Wednesday sent President Barack Obama a bill to keep the government operating through Dec. 9 and provide $1.1 billion in long-delayed funding to battle the Zika virus.
The House cleared the measure by a 342-85 vote just hours after a bipartisan Senate tally. The votes came after top congressional leaders broke through a stalemate over aid to help Flint, Michigan, address its water crisis. Democratic advocates for Flint are now satisfied with renewed guarantees that Flint will get funding later this year to help rid its water system of lead.
The hybrid spending measure was Capitol Hill’s last major to-do item before the election and its completion allows lawmakers to jet home to campaign to save their jobs. Congress won’t return to Washington until the week after Election Day for what promises to be a difficult lame-duck session.
The bill caps months of wrangling over money to fight the mosquito-borne Zika virus. It also includes $500 million for rebuilding assistance to flood-ravaged Louisiana and other states.
The White House said Obama will sign the measure and praised the progress on Flint.
The temporary spending bill sped through the House shortly after the chamber passed a water projects bill containing the breakthrough compromise on Flint. The move to add the Flint package to the water projects bill, negotiated by top leaders in both parties and passed Wednesday by a 284-141 vote, was the key to lifting the Democratic blockade on the separate spending bill.
The deal averts a potential federal shutdown and comes just three days before deadline. It defuses a lengthy, frustrating battle over Zika spending. Democrats claimed a partial victory on Flint while the GOP-dominated Louisiana delegation won a down payment on Obama’s $2.6 billion request for their state.
The politicking and power plays enormously complicated what should have been a routine measure to avoid an election-eve government shutdown.