World Bulletin / News Desk
The U.S. Senate on Tuesday blocked a spending bill needed to keep the federal government continue operations beyond the fiscal years which ends midnight Friday.
In a 45-55 vote, 13 Republicans and two Independents voted against the bill joining an overwhelming majority of Democrats who blocked it because it failed to allocate money to ease a lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
The stopgap bill is a temporary measure to fund federal agencies running out of money at the end of fiscal years.
The bill needed 60 votes to pass without potential filibuster attempts and would have run the government through Dec. 9.
It included $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus and $500 million for flood relief in Louisiana and several other states.
Democrats demanded $220 million be included in the bill for Flint after the predominantly black populated city’s drinking water was found last year to be poisoned by lead for eighteen months due to negligence by the municipality.
Republicans promised to address the water crisis in a separate bill ahead of the vote but Democrats refused to support the spending bill.
Addressing the issue just ahead of the vote, White House spokesman Josh Earnest blamed Republicans for the blockage.
“It is the responsibility of House and Senate Republican leaders to pass a bipartisan budget bill that arrives on the president's desk in time,” Earnest said.
He also criticized the Republican Party for failure to address the Flint water crisis.
“A little clarity about Republican's commitment to addressing this issue is needed, and after waiting for six or seven months for this funding to come through, that clarification would be eagerly welcomed by the White House, but most importantly, by the people in Flint,” Earnest said.
Without a stopgap bill many federal agencies would run out of operating funds by midnight Friday and would be forced to shut down.
The government was closed for 16 days in 2010 after the Democrat-led Congress failed to pass a similar measure.