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On the Hill: Lawmakers Work to Avoid Government Shutdown

This week, Congress is struggling to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government running beyond Friday, which is the last day of fiscal year 2016.

On Sept. 27, the Senate failed to invoke cloture, which would have allowed it to move to final passage of the CR. The resolution has been controversial because Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on policy riders. Both parties insist, however, that a decision will be reached in time to avoid a government shutdown.

For much of the past month, the primary conflict was over whether appropriations to combat Zika should include a policy rider prohibiting Planned Parenthood clinics from accessing such funding. With Republicans acquiescing to Democratic demands that the rider be removed, the parties now are in disagreement over whether the bill should provide funding to aid Flint, Mich., in its efforts to replace drinking water infrastructure.

The proposal includes funding to aid Louisiana following flooding in Baton Rouge, but Democrats argue that the bill also should include funding to assist Flint. Republicans have said the more appropriate legislative measure to aid Flint is in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which is being considered on the House floor this week, but does not include funding for Flint. The Senate WRDA bill, which passed last week, included $220 million for Flint and other communities facing infrastructure issues. Nevertheless, House Democrats are not confident that a final WRDA bill will deliver help to Flint.

With the Senate failing to invoke cloture, Republicans are considering whether to add money for Flint or drop funding for Louisiana flooding to clear the logjam. Federal agencies are making preparations for a government shutdown in the event that Congress fails to pass the CR before Friday, Sept. 30.

In committee business, the House Committee on Ways and Means will hold a hearing on Sept. 28 on health care fraud investigations.

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About the Author

Jocelyn Wiles is the manager of legislative affairs at America's Essential Hospitals.

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