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Senate blocks spending bill from advancing days before shutdown deadline

The Senate on Tuesday blocked a GOP-sponsored short-term government funding bill from advancing, only days before the deadline to avoid a shutdown on Saturday.

Lawmakers rejected the procedural motion in a 45 - 55 vote. Twelve Republicans voted against it and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, also voted against it but only so that he’d keep the option open of bringing it up again. Four Democrats voted in favor. 

Paul Ryan on Congress during its lame duck session

The bill, known as a continuing resolution (CR), was released by Senate Republicans last week and would keep the government funded through Dec. 9 at current funding levels.

When the measure was unveiled last week, however, most Democrats said they were against it because it didn’t contain aid for Flint to recover from its water crisis. They have also complained about other “partisan policy riders” like one on Securities and Exchange Commission political disclosures. It prohibits the SEC from requiring public companies to disclose political spending and Congress actually passed the provision in the government spending package last December. Democrats want to include language in the CR that would strip it out.

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.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, made clear at a press conference Tuesday morning that he believes another bill is the best place to address the situation in Flint.

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.