White House and Congress reach informal deal to avert a government shutdown at end of month

WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Trump administration have come to an informal deal to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month when the federal government is set to run out of funding, two congressional sources said Thursday.

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Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin came to the agreement Tuesday during a phone call about the two sides’ stalled efforts to pass another COVID-19 relief package, a source familiar with the call said. The deal would extend government funding at the same levels they are currently operating at and will likely allow both sides of the aisle to avoid a high-stakes series of negotiations before voters cast their ballots in November. 

a person wearing a suit and tie talking on a cell phone: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., wears a face mask as she arrives to speak at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 26, 2020.

© Carolyn Kaster, AP
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., wears a face mask as she arrives to speak at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, June 26, 2020.

Full details about the agreement were not available but staff-level talks are set to begin soon, the two congressional sources said, adding that no decisions have been set in stone on how long the bill would last. 

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While discussions have picked back up between Democrats and the administration on another stimulus relief package to help Americans and businesses weathering the coronavirus pandemic, it’s unclear whether any stimulus relief might be added to the government spending bill. Pelosi and Mnuchin did not explicitly discuss the option and did not rule it out, one source familiar with their conversation said. 

The agreement may ease worries about another government shutdown. But it doesn’t solve the issue of how to offer relief to Americans suffering the economic fallout. The two sides remain divided over what they want in a new round of coronavirus relief.

Pelosi, Mnuchin, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows negotiated for weeks trying to reconcile the Democrats’ roughly $3.4 trillion plan with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s $1.1 trillion package. Both proposals included $1,200 direct payments for struggling Americans, billions for schools trying to reopen and money for businesses trying to stay afloat. 

The inaction prompted Trump to sign four executive orders to continue some aspects of earlier stimulus bills, but they did not address all the relief sought in talks. After he signed the orders, the two sides continued to blame the other side for the impasse as Congress left for a month-long recess. 

The Senate returns from its recess next week, potentially the last opportunity for Congress to act on coronavirus legislation while also juggling must-pass bills to keep the government funded. Senate Republicans have said they hope to vote on a smaller COVID-19 bill next week, though the legislation is likely to face opposition from

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