House Passes Stopgap Bill to Avoid Government Shutdown

December 9, 2020 by Dan McCue
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her last weekly press conference before the presidential election on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 29, 2020. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The House has passed a week-long stopgap bill to keep the government open through Dec. 18 so lawmakers can continue to negotiate both a longer-term spending package and coronavirus relief.

The bill passed 343-67. If the stopgap measure hadn’t been adopted, funding for the government would have expired Friday.

The measure now heads to the Senate for approval where it is expected to be quickly cleared for President Trump’s signature before a deadline of midnight Friday to avert a partial government shutdown.

After the vote, Rep. Nita Lowey, outgoing chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee said, “This continuing resolution will keep government open as we work to complete the appropriations process and deliver meaningful coronavirus relief to the American people.”

“Democrats continue to negotiate in good faith to complete our important work For The People, and it is imperative that the White House and Republicans join us in this effort,” Lowey said.

Also commenting was Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the Virginia Democrat, who saw no cause for celebration in the passage of the bill.

“With the passage of today’s funding bill, Congress will vote again next week to keep federal employees on the payroll, support critical assistance programs, and prevent our government from shutting down in the middle of an ongoing and rapidly escalating pandemic,” she said.

“This step truly represents doing the bare minimum, and I’ve long pushed back against this Groundhog-Day, stopgap funding proces,” Spanberger added.

“Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on emergency COVID-19 relief as we accelerate towards the expiration of unemployment benefits, eviction protections, support to state and local governments, and key small business tax credits this month,” she continued. “In Central Virginia, we have families and businesses that are facing tremendous uncertainty and potential financial ruin going into the holidays — and inaction from Congress is wholly unacceptable and a dereliction of our duty as elected officials.”

Prospects for a quick deal on the COVID-19 relief bill dimmed markedly Wednesday as Democratic and Republican leaders continued to disagree over the way forward.

Though a bipartisan group of senators is pushing hard for a $908 billion package that also has the support of the House Problem Solvers Caucus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has resisted their entreaties.

That prompted an angry response from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Wednesday.

“We’re trying to get a bipartisan compromise along the lines of the Gang of Eight framework,” he said. “We need Leader McConnell to stop sabotaging the talks and work with this gang of eight, which is the most hopeful and the only bipartisan group together.”

In addition to a funding extension, the funding legislation passed Wednesday includes a one-week extension of certain health care programs.

The text of the legislation, H.R. 8900, is available here.

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