House Passes Short-Term Bill to Avoid Possible Federal Shutdown at End of September
The House passed a short-term bill Thursday to prevent a federal shutdown when the budget year ends Sept. 30, and give lawmakers until the Thanksgiving break to negotiate and approve $1.4 trillion for federal agencies.
The Senate is expected to approve the stopgap bill next week. The vote in the Democratic-run House on the bipartisan plan was 301-123.
The agency spending bills would fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt agreement between President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
The Republican-controlled Senate is struggling over how to move ahead with its versions of the follow-up spending bills. There is partisan skirmishing over the boundaries of the budget agreement and Trump’s moves to pay for the U.S.-Mexico border fence without congressional approval.
The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved three noncontroversial measures on unanimous votes as the sniping continued in the wake of Wednesday’s Democratic filibuster of the almost $700 billion defense bill and other legislation.
Senate Democrats accused Republicans of shortchanging health and education programs to finance the border project and would permit the president to transfer military dollars for the wall again.
But Democrats also want to maintain some leverage over Trump by holding back the Pentagon measure he cares most in order to help force compromises on the domestic bills important to their party.
“We’re at a crossroads right now,” said the committee chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., who is caught in the middle of a battle between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York. “I don’t know what will happen.”
In the House, Pelosi and the top Republican simply want the Senate to act. The second-ranking House Democrat, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, was one of several lawmakers who said there’s no reason that Congress cannot complete the spending bills before Thanksgiving.
“I had discussions yesterday with Schumer. I think we can get this done,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who called the Senate’s battles “more theatre than anything — I think we’ll get it done.”
The House-passed measure also extends some expiring federal programs and replenishes Trump’s bailout of farmers who’ve been hurt by the U.S. trade dispute with China. Democrats say Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue is favoring certain crops over others, and Democrats won language requiring a report on where the bailout money is going.