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Friday, December 9, 2016
STOPGAP FUNDING BILL Poised to Pass Senate Before Midnight Deadline
Legislation funding the federal government until April 28 is poised to pass the Senate after Democrats pledged Friday not to risk a government shutdown by delaying the legislation.
A group of Democrats facing reelection in 2018 from coal-mining states gave a round of fiery speeches on the Senate floor criticizing the funding measure over a short-term extension of miners’ health benefits, but they promised not to force a government shutdown to vent their anger.
“We are not going to shut down the government over this issue,” said Sen. Mark Warner (D) of Virginia, who appeared on the Senate floor with several Democratic colleagues, including Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia, who led the effort.
The announcement brought to an abrupt end speculation over whether Manchin and his allies would raise procedural objections to delay final passage of the appropriations stopgap past the midnight deadline, when federal funding is due to expire.
The concession sets up a vote shortly after 10 p.m. to pass the resolution, which would fund the expiring health benefits of miners until the end of April.
The measure includes $170 million to overhaul the infrastructure of communities with contaminated drinking water, such as Flint, Mich., where lead-tainted water became a national scandal earlier this year.
It also includes $4.1 billion in disaster relief to rebuild areas inundated by floods caused by Hurricane Matthew, including parts of Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, and other storms.
More than $870 million in the measure goes to fund the 21st Century Cures Act, a bill designed to spur medical research. The bill passed both chambers this month and had the support of Vice President Joe Biden, whose “moon shot” project to cure cancer would be funded will receive funding.
The Senate is scheduled to take up a separate water infrastructure authorization measure after the Senate passes the four-month government-funding stopgap.