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House reaches Flint deal as Congress tries to avert shutdown Saturday

Congressional leaders have reached a deal to address Flint aid in a water resources development measure in an attempt to avert a government shutdown on Saturday.

Democrats have opposed a GOP-sponsored spending bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), because it didn’t contain any aid for Flint even though it provided funding to help Louisiana recover from the floods that ravaged the state over the summer. Democrats also had other issues with the legislation.

On Tuesday, in an effort to break a stalemate over the spending bill, Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, reached a deal that would allow for Flint aid to be provided instead in the final conference report for the Water Resources Development Act. The House Rules Committee is slated to kick off the process Wednesday that will allow lawmakers to tack on that provision to the measure.

At the end of the day, the agreement will provide necessary funding Flint needs, according to a Pelosi aide.

It’s unclear, however, whether the Flint deal will appease Democrats who had problems with the spending bill.

“A large chunk of the Democratic caucus will still not support the CR without Flint aid in it. And members have concerns with other elements of the McConnell bill like the SEC rider and the amount and composition of the Zika offsets,” according to a Democratic leadership aide.

On the Senate floor Wednesday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he hopes the Flint deal will allow Republican and Democratic Senate leaders to reach a deal to pass the CR Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said that the Flint deal is “a step in the right direction.”

Ryan expressed confidence Wednesday morning that the Flint deal “will help unlock” the spending bill that was blocked from advancing on Tuesday in the Senate.

“We should be able to move this through, I believe,” he said at the Economic Club of Washington, according to the Associated Press.

The CR would keep the government funded through Dec. 9 at current funding levels. Besides the regular government funding, it would also provide $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight the Zika virus, but it’s offset by $400 million and would take money away from programs Democrats view as crucial. In response to floods that ravaged Louisiana and other states recently, the legislation would also provide $500 million in supplemental funding.

Lawmakers have until Friday night to avoid a shutdown at midnight Saturday -- an outcome both parties want to avoid in an election year. Congress is already scheduled to leave Washington Friday for recess through the election.