Update, 11 p.m.:
Politico, The Huffington Post and other Washington media outlets reported late Tuesday evening that House and Senate leaders were working on a compromise that would provide funding for Flint aid through the Water Resources Development Act, which could help clear the impasse on the stop-gap funding bill.
The move could potentially help Louisiana's flood aid given the Flint objections to its passage, but it wasn't immediately clear whether the compromise effort would directly clear the path for flood relief.
Check back with The Advocate for updates on Wednesday.
U.S. Senate Republicans and Democrats continue to fight over legislation that would provide federal flood aid to Louisiana before Congress recesses this month, narrowing the window for the state to secure funding now or wait until December.
A measure that included up to $500 million for flood relief efforts was effectively blocked in the chamber by a 45-55 vote on Tuesday to keep it from advancing, after Senate Democrats said they wouldn't support a bill that didn't include money for Flint, Michigan's drinking water crisis.
Leaders of both parties accused each other of "playing politics," as the federal government edges toward a shutdown this week.
"Democrats are objecting because funding for Flint is not included," U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said.
The ongoing fight over legislation that would prevent a government shutdown at midnight Friday, and Tuesday's procedural vote blocking it, seemed to throw cold water on the potential for Louisiana to secure flood relief dollars this month, but leaders here say they remain optimistic even as the clock winds down.
Cassidy said he continued Tuesday evening to press for some resolution.
"I'm going to continue to push, however I can, in the House and Senate, the leadership of either party, to try to move this forward," he said.
The short-term budget bill, formally known as a continuing resolution, would fund government through Dec. 9 and allow more time for a longer-range plan to be crafted. It has been identified as the only remaining "must-pass" bill before Congress recesses, so it's seen as the quickest way to get aid to the thousands of Louisiana residents affected by the flood.
Louisiana leaders had said the nearly $500 million that Senate leaders tucked into the proposal for flood relief would serve as a "down payment" and let the state begin long-term housing recovery efforts following catastrophic floods that left 13 people dead and thousands of homes damaged or destroyed.
“It’s utterly ridiculous that at this late stage Senate Democrats would rather shut down the government than provide funding for Louisiana flood recovery,” U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, said in a statement. “By blocking this funding, Senate Democrats are responsible for withholding critical disaster assistance for the hundreds of thousands of Louisianians struggling to recover from a thousand-year flood – and that’s just shameful.”
After failing to advance the spending plan Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said leaders would continue to work to reach an agreement that Congress would pass.
"We hope that important flood relief will be a part of it," he said.
Gov. John Bel Edwards said he also remains optimistic, but he expressed concern about Louisiana becoming "collateral damage" in a larger political fight.
"I've talked to all the leadership ... there's nobody who is opposed to this down payment for the state of Louisiana," Edwards, a Democrat, said on Tuesday after the Senate twice rejected the measure. "They are arguing about some other things ... including, I think, principally whether there is going to be money in the continuing resolution to help Flint, Michigan. Well, it's not my job as governor of Louisiana to advocate for Flint, Michigan, but I'm certainly not going to advocate against them either.
"I just need Congress to work it out without the state of Louisiana being collateral damage," he added.
In recent weeks, the flood aid has been explicitly linked to efforts to secure money for Flint's water crisis. Democratic senators have spent the past year trying to obtain federal aid for the poverty-stricken city to address its lead-contaminated drinking water, as thousands of residents must rely on bottled water for basic needs.
"We said to the leader on the Republican side, 'If you want to help Louisiana, and I do, also help the people living in Flint, Michigan,'" said U.S. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, D-Illinois. "He refused. He said there will be money for Louisiana but there won't be any money for Michigan. Why? We think there are victims in both places, and in the past the Senate and Congress have risen to those tragedies and those demands."
Other politics reaching to the November elections may also be at play. A government shutdown could leave the majority party, in particular, with a black eye ahead of the November elections. The ongoing delays also prevent Senators who are up for re-election from returning home to campaign.
McConnell openly questioned whether Democrats were "playing politics with the lives of flood victims … after saying they cared."
"(The bill)’s the result of weeks of bipartisan negotiations," he said. "It does the very things members of both parties, and more importantly our constituents, have been calling for. We cannot afford to delay any longer."
The short-term funding proposal needed 60 votes to advance Tuesday; it got 45. A dozen conservative Republicans, who oppose the measure for various reasons unrelated to Flint aid, joined the Democrats in also voting against the bill. Once it, or another spending proposal, makes it through the Senate, it would have to then go to the House for consideration.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, accused her Republican colleagues of "raw politics."
"Their philosophy screams 'I want mine but the rest of you are on your own,'" she said, accusing Republicans of looking out for Republican-represented states to the detriment of Democratic-held states.
"This is not a game," she said.
Michigan has two Democratic senators while Louisiana has two Republicans in the chamber.
"The Republicans are saying 'The disasters in our states are more important than the disasters in your states,'" Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said. "That's wrong."
Advocate staff writer Gordon Russell contributed to this report.