Short-Term Spending Deal Reached to Avert Oct. 1 Shutdown

September 20, 2019by Erik Wasson
On July 27, 2004, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) speaks to delegates during the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Mass. (Richard Michael Pruitt/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats and Republicans reached a deal Wednesday on a stopgap spending bill to avert a U.S. government shutdown on Oct. 1, even as the threat of a closure later in the year continues to build.

The short-term measure would keep the government open through Nov. 21 while lawmakers work out details for $1.3 trillion in spending for the 2020 fiscal year under a budget deal reached in July by Congress and President Donald Trump.

The temporary agreement was sealed when Democrats — under pressure from rural members — agreed to fund the administration’s emergency trade aid to farmers to offset retaliation by China and other countries against Trump’s tariff policies. The farm aid would continue through Nov. 21 while the administration would be required to provide data on which farmers have been harmed by trade retaliation.

The spending bill, set for a House vote at the end of this week and Senate vote next week, also would temporarily extend the National Flood Insurance Program, the Export-Import Bank and a number of health programs. The current fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Democratic and Republican aides said the plan was a bipartisan deal.

The measure, H.R. 4378, “will provide families, businesses, and communities with budget certainty while we negotiate long-term funding,” said House Appropriations Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a New York Democrat.

The government still faces the possibility of a shutdown after Nov. 21 as lawmakers battle over Trump’s drive to fund a wall on the border with Mexico. The Senate is deadlocked over the issue, which led to a 35-day partial shutdown at the beginning of this year.

Democrats want language in the defense spending bill to prevent Trump from again raiding Pentagon funds to spend $5 billion in the next fiscal year to fund a new section of wall. Democrats also oppose an attempt to replenish military construction accounts that Trump used this year to fund wall construction.

The Senate on Wednesday was unable to muster the votes to begin debate on the annual defense spending bill and three other funding measures.

“I think we are talking to each other but I don’t know if either one is listening,” said Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.

He said a deadlock could lead to a full-year stopgap spending bill, leaving agencies to operate on the previous fiscal year’s spending instructions.

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