House lawmakers on Monday remained at loggerheads on a Confederate flag amendment, forcing the GOP leadership to abandon debate on spending bills and instead turn to a bill that aims to address California's historic drought.
The House will take up legislation this week that would allow more water to be pumped through the Central Valley Project, which is now restricted in order to preserve an endangered species of fish. The legislation would also lift regulatory burdens so that water storage and capturing systems can be constructed more quickly.
The House schedule excludes any mention of spending legislation, even though Republican leaders had aimed to complete them by the August recess.
RELATED: Flag flap grinds House work to a halt
The schedule switch came after a flap over the flag forced Republican leaders to pull the fiscal 2016 bill to fund the Interior Department. Democrats introduced a measure to ban display of the Confederate flag on federal land, and it passed during the open amendment process. Republicans were caught flat-footed and, rather than blocking it, a group of southern Republicans introduced their own amendment to reverse the ban.
With the fight unresolved and posing a potential public relations disaster, Republicans pulled the bill and stopped plans to debate further spending legislation thanks to threats from Democrats to introduce more anti-flag riders.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he wanted Democrats and Republicans to "sit down and have a conversation" about the flag issue. But there are so far no definite plans for a bipartisan meeting as of mid-day Monday.
Republicans have passed half of the dozen appropriations bills that need to clear Congress by the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The Senate is much further behind and has been unable to pass spending legislation because Democrats are filibustering in an effort to raise spending levels.