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Capitol Ink | Essential Reading

Capitol-Ink-09-07-17

Bigly Inning

Michigan Delegation Joined Leadership at Negotiating Table
Flint Rep. Dan Kildee helped secure language on water bill that led to CR deal

From left, Rep. Dan Kildee, Sen. Gary Peters and Rep. Sander Levin, all Michigan Democrats, leave a news conference in the Capitol. Funding for the Flint water crisis was not included in the 10-week stopgap spending bill passed by Congress on Wednesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Eleventh-hour government funding deals are usually negotiated between the leaders of both parties in the House and Senate and the White House. This year, there were some extra players at the table.

Members of the Michigan delegation were heavily involved in securing aid for the city of Flint, which has been stricken by a water contamination crisis for more than a year.

As Funding Government Stalled, Fundraising for Congress Soared
Perpetual brinksmanship, perpetual campaigning the new normal

New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte arrives at Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant for a fundraising event, one of dozens held by members of Congress in recent weeks. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As members of Congress postured and blamed each other for a budget impasse that threatened to shut down the government, the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant was a happening place for backroom fundraising.

In separate dining rooms that were just steps from each other, three members of Congress — two House Democrats from safe districts and a Republican senator in a competitive race — entertained contributors who’d paid as much as $2,500 for lunch.

House Republicans to Allow Flint Vote
Deal on water bill amendment expected to resolve government funding impasse

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, right, seen here with House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, has reached an agreement with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to allow an amendment authorizing aid for Flint, Michigan, to be included in a water resources bill. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans late Tuesday acquiesced to Democrats’ demands to  address the Flint, Michigan, water contamination crisis, when the Rules Committee voted to allow an amendment to a water resources measure that would authorize $170 million in assistance.

The move comes just one day after the Rules panel blocked a similar attempt to get a vote on Flint aid as the chamber took up the Water Resources Development Act. The change of heart signals interest in resolving a stalemate over Flint that has held up a must-pass stopgap spending bill to keep government agencies running into December.

Democrats Insisting on Flint Aid in CR Indicates Last Opportunity
Democratic groups sent letters to McConnell, Ryan pushing Flint funding in stopgap bill

Drinking water is stacked at the Sylvester Broome Center in Flint, Mich., February 22, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democrats are heading toward a hard-line position on Flint water crisis aid.

“I'm not going to support the [continuing resolution] and there's a growing number of Democrats that are taking that same position,” Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., said of a government funding package Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released Thursday that did not include money for Flint.

House Heading Toward December CR With Possible Add-Ons
Strategy begins to emerge after GOP conference meeting

Speaker Paul D. Ryan weighed different approaches to funding the government through the new fiscal year at a GOP conference meeting Friday. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republicans appear to be leaning toward a government funding package that would use a continuing resolution to extend most departments' fiscal 2016 funding levels into December while possibly finalizing fiscal 2017 spending for a handful of agencies.

Several members leaving a GOP conference meeting Friday morning said that the majority of Republicans expressed a preference for a short-term CR into December, though no final decisions have been made.

House Republicans Ready Government Funding Pitches
Some members pushing a 'minibus' strategy, muddling path toward consensus

Republican Study Committee Chairman Bill Floresof Texas favors packaging spending bills dealing with issues such as national security. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With Speaker Paul D. Ryan noncommittal on how House Republicans should fund the government beyond Sept. 30, GOP factions head into a Friday conference meeting armed with ideas that could further muddle the path toward consensus.

The primary question is how long Congress should extend current funding. GOP members are divided over whether to punt the matter into a lame-duck session in December or into March 2017, after a new Congress and administration will have had time to settle in.

House Leadership Tips Hand on CR Preference
Ryan, McCarthy both suggest interest in finishing approps process this year

On government funding decisions, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, left, and Speaker Paul D. Ryan appear in sync with Republican appropriators and defense hawks who want to pass new spending policy before the end of 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Tuesday the House Republican Conference would discuss the appropriate length of a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, but both indicated that their preference is for one that lasts through December. 

"I’m sure we will have a successful outcome just to make sure the trains are running on time while we negotiate the individual spending bills throughout the fall," Ryan said on Janesville, Wisconsin, radio station WBEL.

Reid Warns of Shutdown Showdown Over Immigration (Video)

Cruz said Tuesday it would be appropriate to add language blocking a "pen and phone" approach from the president on immigration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday that if a band of Republicans press for language blocking executive actions on immigration, they're inviting a government shutdown.  

"If I have anything to do with it? No, no, no," the Nevada Democrat said of allowing a vote on such a proposal, as sought by a group of Senate and House conservatives led on the Senate side by Ted Cruz, Jeff Sessions and Mike Lee.