THE NEUTRAL ZONE
President Donald Trump signed a bipartisan agreement to keep the government running through Dec. 11. The agreement avoids a shutdown ahead of the November election and extends programs whose funding or authorization would have lapsed on Sept. 30, including federal flood insurance, highway and transit programs and various health programs. The Senate approved it 84-10 on Wednesday after the House approved it last week.
The spending bill came together after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reached a compromise on the addition of trade relief for farmers and $8 billion in pandemic-related meal assistance for families. The farm aid will not be paid out to fossil fuel refiners and importers, a boundary sought by Democrats.
With this spending bill signed, lawmakers will complete work on the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal year 2021 in the post-election, so-called lame-duck session in November and December. The Senate hasn’t drafted any of the bills so far, and they will likely include measures related to President Trump’s wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and replacing military funds redirected to pay for border security last year. Coronavirus relief measures will be discussed separately from upcoming appropriation bill debates.
Senate passes bill funding government through December – Axios – 9/30/2020
Both sides agreed early in negotiations that the bill should be a “clean” continuing resolution — meaning each party would only make small changes to existing funding levels so the measure would pass through both chambers quickly, Axios’ Alayna Treene reported last week. The bill now goes to President Trump for his signature.
Senate passes stopgap bill to fund US government through December – Fox News – 9/30/2020
It includes provisions coveted by both sides, including farm aid and nutrition assistance. Called a continuing resolution, the measure will maintain funding at current levels. Unless a full-year spending agreement is agreed upon before the December deadline, lawmakers may face a renewed government shutdown threat before the start of a new Congress.
Congress managed to agree on at least one thing: Avoiding a government shutdown – Vox – 9/30/2020
While battles over government funding have resulted in extensive shutdowns in the past — including one in 2019 that lasted 35 days — this issue has proven to be one of the least contentious that lawmakers are dealing with amid an ongoing pandemic and a fierce Supreme Court fight. For months, there’s been little movement on coronavirus aid even as millions of Americans continue to deal with layoffs and thousands of small businesses weigh permanently closing.
Trump Signs Stopgap Spending Bill Averting Shutdown – National Review – 10/1/2020
Congress has been mired in partisan deadlock amid negotiations for a potential new coronavirus relief package, as well as presidential elections and the looming Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. The continuing resolution will push back budget decisions until after the elections, although it is unclear if a lame-duck Congress will succeed in crafting a budget before a shutdown of the federal government.