The federal government could shut down Friday if Congress cannot work out a solution to a budget dispute. So far, they've failed.
The debate centers on funding for the ongoing drinking-water crisis in Flint, Michigan. There is a rift between Senate Democrats and some of the more conservative Republicans over a stopgap spending bill from Kentucky Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, aimed at finding a solution for funding the federal government before the midnight Friday deadline.
"Among other things, Democrats are objecting that the legislation provides no money to deal with water contamination in Flint, Mich., located in a state with two Democratic senators, while it includes funds that could go for flood relief in Louisiana, which is represented by two Republicans," wrote the New York Times. The bill also has $1.1 billion in funding to fight the Zika virus.
Tuesday afternoon the spending bill was rejected, 45-55, on its first vote. Republicans have promised to address the Flint spending at a later date. McConnell indicated Tuesday they might strip the $500 million in funding for the Louisiana floods to help move things along, according to CNN reporter Manu Raju on Twitter.
Even if the legislation eventually does get through, it would likely arrive at the House Wednesday or Thursday, meaning a vote would take place under the looming shadow of a government shutdown.
Democrats have accused Republicans of not caring about the people with lead-tainted water in Flint. There is a Senate-passed water resources bill that has aid for Flint but there is no guarantee its final form later this year will actually include funding for the crisis.
"'Trust me we will consider Flint later' — that's like nothing to me," said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, via the Associated Press.
McConnell, meanwhile, accused Democratic leaders of playing a political game during the important election cycle.
"It’s almost as if a few Democratic leaders decided long ago that bringing our country to the brink would make for good election-year politics, and then they’ve just made up the rationale as they go along," he said.
McConnell's bill would keep the government funded and running through Dec. 9. The federal government shut down for 16 days in 2013 after it couldn't agree on a budget. It avoided a shutdown in December of last year.