Nonetheless, White House officials suggested Monday that they might be able to accept the so-called “continuing resolution,” or CR, even without the farm money.
“We do prefer additional farm aid in the CR…. Most of all we want a clean CR to keep the government open,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters at the White House.
It was not immediately clear if Senate Republicans would support the legislation, if the House passes it this week as expected and sends it to the Senate.
Much of Washington’s attention is focused on the coming Supreme Court nomination battle following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and neither party has shown interest in a high-stakes government shutdown showdown weeks ahead of the election.
Democrats oppose the farm bailout money because they view it as a political payoff to farmers hurt by Trump’s trade policies. The president announced a new round of aid to farmers in a visit last week to battleground Wisconsin, coming from the same fund that would be replenished by the new funding stream the administration was seeking as part of the stopgap spending bill.
At one point Friday Pelosi and Mnuchin had appeared to reach a tentative deal to trade the farm bailout money for food assistance for schoolkids affected by the pandemic. But that agreement never materialized. Republicans accused Pelosi of backing out of a deal with Mnuchin, while Democrats insisted there wasn’t really a deal to begin with.
The short-term spending bill, as introduced in the House, also does not include any new provisions related to economic aid for the coronavirus. Talks around a new coronavirus relief bill are essentially dead, despite pressure on Pelosi from moderate House Democrats to revive them.
Congress in recent years has frequently failed to pass the 12 annual must-pass spending bills to fund government agencies on time, and has had to resort to short-term spending bills. There have also been a number of government shutdowns, with a lengthy one running from December 2018 until January 2019.
Although a large portion of the federal budget — including programs like Medicare and Social Security — runs on autopilot, funding for government agencies including the Pentagon and Department of Health and Human Services must be renewed annually by Congress.