Hey, we avoided a federal government shutdown with days to go again


Yes, you've seen headlines and stories like this before, but it happened once again. U.S. lawmakers – nearing the end of a fiscal year – avoided a federal government shutdown by reaching an agreement.

U.S. senators and representatives couldn't agree on how much money should be spent, or how it should be divvied up. So with just two days left until federal money ran out, it looked like a government shutdown starting Oct. 1 was possible.

But late Wednesday both sides came together and, as the Washington Post explains, passed a short-term spending bill to keep things running into December (after the Nov. 8 election). At which point they'll have to negotiate long-term spending plans for 2017.

What's in the bill?

This is what's called an "appropriations" bill. Basically, it sets how much money each different program or agency can spend.

For example, the bill includes $1.1 billion to help U.S. agencies deter the spread of the Zika virus. Of that, $394 million is set aside for the CDC for response efforts, $152 million is for the National Institute of Health for research and other work, and $387 million goes to the Office of the Secretary.

There's also $500 million in there for flood relief in the south, CNN reports, and $37 million for opioid addiction.

Flint aid is kind of attached

One interesting part of the dealmaking, Reuters notes, is federal money for Flint, Michigan, to help with the poisoned water.

The news organization says Democrats have been pushing to provide aid to the city as it deals with the fallout of lead in the drinking water, with the Republicans less insistent on it. But shortly before Wednesday's appropriations bill vote, the sides came to an agreement. Sort of.

In a separate bill, the House voted overwhelmingly to approve $170 million to help Flint cope with the lead problems. It's not quite the $220 million the Senate (which is controlled by Democratsedit:Republicans) approved in their bill a couple weeks ago, but the Washington Post described it as a "partial victory" for those supporters.

The lawmakers will have to find a compromise agreement sometime after the Nov. 8 election.

Who voted for it, against it?

In the House, the short-term appropriations spending bill passed by a vote of 342-85, with almost an equal number of Republicans (170) and Democrats (172) supporting it.

Of Minnesota's eight U.S. representatives, two voted against it:

  • Democrat Keith Ellison, who represents the 5th Congressional District.
  • Republican Tom Emmer, who represents the 6th Congressional District.

The rest – four of them Democrats, two Republicans – supported it.

On the Senate side, the bill passed 72-26.

Amy Klobuchar voted for it, Al Franken voted against it. Both are Democrats.

The entire Minnesota U.S. Congressional delegation (both senators and all eight representatives) voted "Aye" on the Flint water funding.

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