Congressional leaders are scrambling to agree on a bipartisan spending deal that averts a government shutdown at the end of the month, with House Democrats releasing a nej;w bill on Monday—although Republicans have already said they would oppose it.
In the latest bid to reach a bipartisan agreement on a spending bill, House Democrats introduced new legislation on Monday that would keep the government running through December 11.
Lawmakers looked to have reached an agreement to avoid a partial government shutdown late last week, but the bill hit last-minute snags on Friday over issues like aid for farmers, an extension of 2020 Census deadlines, pandemic-related food aid and funding for election security.
The new bill from Democrats on Monday reportedly doesn’t include the tens of billions of dollars in trade relief for farmers, a key provision requested by the Trump White House.
Democrats have raised concerns over replenishing the Agriculture Department’s Commodity Credit Corp., which would be used to provide more aid to farmers, since they believe it would give President Trump a blank check to use for political purposes.
Democrats were hoping for at least $2 billion to help families with school-age children to buy groceries during the pandemic—but they agreed to remove that provision from the next bill, along with the aid for farmers, in order to try and reach a consensus.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-Ky.), however, was quick to oppose the Democratic spending bill on Monday, which he said “shamefully leaves out key relief and support that American farmers need.”
What To Watch For
While negotiations are still fluid, disagreements over the spending bill could set up a clash in the Republican-controlled Senate, where tensions are already running high: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnnell (R-Ky.) said that he would move quickly to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg over the weekend. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that she has no intention of allowing the government to shut down and that she would not use the negotiations over spending as leverage in the Supreme Court fight taking shape in the Senate. What’s more, with Republicans trying to push through their Supreme Court nominee, it’s likely to cause a heated debate that will engulf Washington for the next few weeks—meaning that an agreement on a new coronavirus stimulus bill now looks more unlikely than ever before the November presidential election.
If an agreement cannot be reached on spending, it wouldn’t be the first time the government has shut down during Trump’s tenure. In 2019, Trump forced a partial government shutdown for 35 days in a bid to obtain more than $5 billion in funding for a border wall between the United States and Mexico. The President eventually relented, however, making a major political concession and ending the shutdown without securing funding for his border wall.
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