Bipartisan talks continue as House Democrats pass $2.2 trillion coronavirus measure

The House on Thursday night passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, but it has little chance of advancing in the GOP-led Senate, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is still trying to work out a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin that is acceptable to Democrats and Senate Republicans.

The measure is a scaled-back version of the $3.4 trillion relief package passed by the House in May. No Republicans voted for it, and 20 Democrats, mostly from swing districts, also voted against it. Pelosi is facing pressure from some Democrats to reach a quick compromise with Mnuchin, who is offering a $1.6 trillion bill, but she said on the floor before Thursday’s vote that this is a “values debate. It’s important for people to know what this fight is about. The people have needs, and we have to meet them.”

When it comes to offering relief, Democrats are pushing for more aid to go to state and local governments, while the GOP wants liability protections for schools and businesses, Politico reports. Pelosi told reporters on Thursday night she is still reviewing the latest documents from Mnuchin, and “even if we come to some agreement, nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to — it’s the language.”

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House Democrats Pass $2.2 Trillion Stimulus Republicans Reject

(Bloomberg) — The House passed a $2.2 trillion Democrat-only fiscal stimulus package after the most concerted talks between the top negotiators since early August failed to yield a bipartisan agreement.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi earlier insisted the vote — which at 214-207 saw no Republican support — wouldn’t slam the door on negotiations with the White House on a bill President Donald Trump could sign into law. After sitting down with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnunchin Wednesday, she spoke with him several times by phone again Thursday.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd posing for the camera: Mnuchin, Pelosi Try To Forge Stimulus Deal With Time Running Out

© Bloomberg
Mnuchin, Pelosi Try To Forge Stimulus Deal With Time Running Out

Nancy Pelosi, center, speaks to reporters as she walks to her office at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 1.

Photographer: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Those talks have so far failed to bridge what’s been a gap of hundreds of billions of dollars between the two sides. Sharp differences also remain on components of coronavirus relief, with the Trump administration rejecting the scale of aid Democrats want for state and local authorities, and Pelosi demanding the end of tax breaks she says are devoted to the wealthy.

The speaker told reporters Thursday evening that she would review documents that Mnuchin had sent her to determine where to go next after several calls during the day. “We are going back and forth with our paper,” she said, underscoring the importance of the language used in any deal.

Pelosi said the House’s vote on its own bill would help present in a more public way what Democrats are unified in “pushing for” in the negotiations. Republicans in the Senate, where they have a majority, attempted to pass their own package last month — a $650 billion plan that was blocked by Democrats.

Clock Ticking

With the presidential and congressional elections 33 days away and Congress expected to adjourn beforehand for the final leg of the campaign, time is running short. Private economists have already cut their growth forecasts for the fourth quarter after the failure to find a compromise on another fiscal package.

Economic data are already showing the fading impact of the $2 trillion stimulus enacted in March. Americans’ incomes fell in August by the most in three months after the government’s supplemental unemployment benefits expired, a report showed Thursday.

Although Trump and his aides have continued to express confidence in the recovery, major companies have announced job cuts in recent days. Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it’s slashing 28,000 workers, American Airlines Group Inc. said Wednesday night it would begin to furlough 19,000 employees and United Airlines Holdings Inc. is planning to cut more than 13,000.

“People say we should have a skinny package — no, we don’t have a skinny problem. We have a massive problem,” Pelosi said on the House floor Thursday.

Reduced Package

Democrats reduced their stimulus demands from a $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May. But the legislation approved Thursday is still more than Republicans have said they could accept. Also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch

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House Democrats pass partisan COVID bill; relief talks drag

Democrats controlling the House narrowly have passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Thursday, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish

WASHINGTON — Democrats controlling the House narrowly passed a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill Thursday night, a move that came as top-level talks on a smaller, potentially bipartisan measure dragged on toward an uncertain finish. An air of pessimism has largely taken over the Capitol.

Passage of the $2.2 trillion plan came after a burst of negotiations this week between Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The Trump administration delivered concessions Wednesday, including a $400 per week pandemic jobless benefit and a markedly higher overall price tag of $1.6 trillion, but that failed to win over Pelosi.

“This isn’t half a loaf, this is the heel of the loaf,” Pelosi said in a televised interview Thursday. Pelosi spoke after the White House attacked her as “not being serious.”

The ramped-up negotiations come as challenging economic news continues to confront policymakers. The airlines are furloughing about 30,000 workers with the expiration of aid passed earlier this year, and a report Thursday showed 837,000 people claiming jobless benefits for the first time last week. Most of the economic benefits of an immediate round of COVID relief could accrue under the next administration, and failure now could mean no significant help for struggling families and businesses until February.

The vote was advertised as a way to demonstrate Democrats were making a good faith offer on coronavirus relief, but 18 Democrats abandoned the party and sentiment remains among more moderate Democrats to make more concessions and guarantee an agreement before Election Day. Republicans controlling the Senate remained divided.

Talks between Mnuchin and Pelosi were closely held and the Speaker told reporters that no deal would come on Thursday. Mnuchin’s offer of a $400 per week jobless benefit put him in the same ballpark as Democrats backing a $600 benefit. Mnuchin’s price tag of $1.6 trillion or more could drive many Republicans away, however, even as it failed to satisfy Pelosi.

“We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion,” White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters Thursday. “It’s one that she is is not interested in.”

Mnuchin and Pelosi spoke by phone Thursday, but the speaker was publicly dismissive of the latest White House plan. Discussions are continuing, Pelosi said.

The White House plan, offered Wednesday, gave ground with a $250 billion proposal on funding for state and local governments and backed $20 billion in

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House Democrats Narrowly Pass $2.2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill Without Bipartisan Deal

House Democrats narrowly passed their own $2.2 trillion stimulus bill on Thursday night despite ongoing negotiations with Republicans and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.

The legislation, dubbed the HEROES Act 2.0, is a trimmed-down version of the roughly $3 trillion HEROES Act passed in May. At the time, Republicans blocked the legislation—which they called a “wish list”—due to its high price tag.

The new version, approved by the chamber in a 214-207 vote, includes a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks, extended $600 weekly unemployment benefits, $436 billion in emergency aid for state and local governments, $225 billion for schools and childcare, Paycheck Protection Program funding, as well as assistance for airlines and the restaurant industry. 18 Democrats voted against the measure.

Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi walking through Capitol Hill on October 1, 2020.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already indicated the new package would fail in the Senate. The GOP, who want a smaller bill, recently proposed a roughly $500 billion package, about half the figure of their previously proposed $1 trillion HEALS Act. “We’re very, very far apart,” McConnell said. “The thought that Senate Republicans would jump up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”

House Republican Whip Steve Scalise said the HEROES Act was “no better than the last bill that failed the American people,” and criticized the bill for including funding for undocumented immigrants.

As Americans grow frustrated with the stalled-deal, lawmakers have blamed each other along partisan lines for their failure to pass another package amid the pandemic. Democrats say the GOP isn’t providing sufficient funds and Republicans have accused the Democrats of using the coronavirus to further their political agenda.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters that she was “optimistic” that the months-long stimulus deadlock will end with an agreement being stuck. She has, however, also said that both sides of the political aisle still “have a dollars debate” and “values debate” to conquer. When asked about the chances of a deal on Thursday, Pelosi said, “I don’t know. It just depends. We’ll see.”

Hours before the House vote, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that the Trump administration offered $1.6 trillion to Pelosi on Wednesday. Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill said the Speaker and Mnuchin held negotiations for about 50 minutes today and ended talks with “distance on key areas.”

It is unclear whether Democrats would concede another $600 billion—so far, Pelosi has resisted—but one thing the two parties have agreed on is the inclusion of another round of stimulus checks.

As Congress prepares to adjourn, Pelosi has stressed the urgency to pass a deal soon. “I never say this is the last chance until Election Day, although that’s 33 days away,” she said.

Newsweek reached out to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for comment.

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House Democrats to Pass Their Own Stimulus Bill Despite Ongoing Talks with Mnuchin

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi indicated on Thursday that the Democratic-led chamber will move to pass their own $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, despite ongoing negotiations with the Trump administration and Republicans’ disapproval of the legislation they plan to approve.

a group of people posing for the camera: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives for her weekly news conference in the House Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol on October 1 in Washington, DC. Pelosi met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday in an unsuccessful effort to negotiate with the Trump Administration on coronavirus economic relief legislation.

© Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) arrives for her weekly news conference in the House Visitors Center at the U.S. Capitol on October 1 in Washington, DC. Pelosi met with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Wednesday in an unsuccessful effort to negotiate with the Trump Administration on coronavirus economic relief legislation.

The California Democrat, though more optimistic on the prospects for a potential deal than she was previously, made clear that she and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin still do not have an agreement and remain far apart on several issues.

“I’m hopeful, but we do come at it from two different places,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference. “We not only have a dollars debate, we have a values debate. Still, I’m optimistic.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany confirmed to reporters at the White House Thursday that the administration gave a $1.6 trillion counter-offer during a meeting between Pelosi and Mnuchin on Wednesday. But the $600 billion gap will be a difficult one to close, considering the Republicans’ lack of appetite for any package above $1 trillion. One of the few issues that the two sides can agree on is a second round of $1,200 checks.

HEROES vs. HEALS Act: How Stimulus Packages Differ Ahead Of Second Coronavirus Relief Aid



McEnany cast doubt on the ongoing talks, as Pelosi persists in her refusal to drop below $2.2 trillion.

“Nancy Pelosi is not being serious,” McEnany said. “If she becomes serious, than we can have a discussion here. We raised our offer to $1.6 trillion … It’s a good offer, but it’s one Nancy Pelosi is not interested in.”

The discussions between Pelosi and Mnuchin will continue Thursday, amid pleas from airlines for immediate relief as they prepare to lay off tens of thousands of workers. For Congress, it is likely a “now or never” moment, as lawmakers prepare to embark Washington and hop to the campaign trail for the remaining weeks of the election. If a deal can’t be reached this week, before Congress adjourns, there are few insiders in the nation’s capital who feel an agreement will materialize before November 3.

“I never say this is the last chance until Election Day, although that’s 33 days away,” Pelosi said.

The Democrats’ $2.2 trillion bill, which they’ve dubbed the Heroes Act 2.0, is scaled down from the original $3.4 trillion Heroes Act passed in May. It includes a second round of checks, a $600 weekly unemployment boost, $225 billion for education, $436 billion for state and local governments, food aid, assistance for airlines and renters, and money for the Paycheck Protection Program.

The package emerged as a result of pressure from moderate and vulnerable

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House Democrats Prep to Pass Stimulus Bill That is Dead with GOP if Talks Fail

Once again, House Democrats are preparing to go it alone.

a group of people standing next to a person in a suit and tie: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talk with members of Congress following ceremonies honoring late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on September 25 in Washington, DC.

© Photo by Jonathan Ernst – Pool/Getty
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) talk with members of Congress following ceremonies honoring late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the U.S. Capitol on September 25 in Washington, DC.

Amid renewed negotiations between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the House postponed plans Wednesday evening to vote on a trimmed-down $2.2 trillion stimulus package until Thursday to “give further room for talks,” a Democratic aide told Newsweek.

Democrats have dubbed the new proposal the Heroes Act 2.0, which they unveiled this week after the last few months failed to produce a bipartisan agreement for another pandemic relief measure.

If a deal is not reached, the Democratic measure is expected to pass along mostly party lines. The proposal offers political cover for Democrats headed into tough re-elections on November 3, as moderates have grown increasingly anxious over Congress’ stimulus inaction. The lack of progress has resulted in mounting pressure on Pelosi to allow another vote on some form of pandemic relief.

The new $2.2 trillion Heroes Act, which is scaled back from the old $3.4 trillion Heroes Act that the House passed in May, includes a second round of $1,200 checks, a $600 weekly federal supplement to unemployment insurance, $225 billion for education, $436 billion for state and local governments, food aid, airline industry assistance and Paycheck Protection Program funding.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reiterated that legislation of such size and cost is out of the question for Republicans, accusing it of being riddled with “poison pills.” GOP lawmakers want a more tailored measure, such as the roughly $500 billion package Senate Democrats blocked Republicans from advancing earlier this month. Some Republicans have shown a willingness to spend more while many remain opposed.

HEROES vs. HEALS Act: How Stimulus Packages Differ Ahead Of Second Coronavirus Relief Aid



“We’re very, very far apart,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters.

Video: Trump argues large rallies during Covid-19 have ‘no negative effect’ (NBC News)

Trump argues large rallies during Covid-19 have ‘no negative effect’



At the same time, on the other side of the capitol building, Pelosi and Mnuchin were meeting.

“[$2.2 trillion] is too high,” McConnell said. “The thought that Senate Republicans would jump up to $2.2 trillion is outlandish.”

Despite the lack of a deal that’s persisted for months, Mnuchin and Pelosi are vowing to continue their talks.

“We still don’t have an agreement, but we have more work to do,” Mnuchin told reporters. “And we’re going to see where we end up.”

The political reality is that Congress is still not poised to approve coronavirus-related legislation until after Election Day when tensions die down. Moderate Democrats had pushed House leadership to put forward a proposal that could muster bipartisan support rather than another messaging bill, raising questions about

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House Democrats introduce $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, unlikely to pass in Senate

WASHINGTON — House Democrats unveiled a $2.2 trillion COVID-19 relief bill in a longshot push to break the impasse on relief negotiations before the election, though the bill is likely to face opposition in the Republican-controlled Senate if it passes the House.  

Why widespread COVID-19 testing is crucial to fighting the coronavirus pandemic



Many of the benefits previously approved by Congress ran out earlier this year, leaving millions of Americans waiting for urgently-needed aid. The $600 federal benefit to unemployment benefits ran out in July, a loan forgiveness program for small businesses expired, and airlines warned of mass layoffs as support for the industry expired. 

The bill, an updated version of the legislation passed earlier by House Democratsprovides another round of $1,200 stimulus checks, reauthorizes the small business lending program, brings back the $600 federal boost to the unemployment benefit through January, and provides assistance for the airline industry.

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The bill also includes: 

  • $225 billion in education funding, with $182 billion for K-12 schools and about $39 billion for postsecondary education
  • $120 billion in grants for restaurants
  • $436 billion in assistance for state, local, and tribal governments
  • $75 billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and isolation measures 
  • $15 billion in funding for the United States Postal Service 
  • Increased food assistance benefits

“Democrats are making good on our promise to compromise with this updated bill, which is necessary to address the immediate health and economic crisis facing America’s working families right now,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democrats as the bill was unveiled. 

Moderate Democrats, many of whom face tough re-election contests, have pushed congressional Democratic leaders for weeks to act on a pared-down COVID-19 relief bill before they leave for their scheduled recess ahead of the election.

The House could act on the bill as soon as this week. Although the Senate is unlikely to act on the legislation, it represents a negotiating point over $1 trillion lower than Democrats’ previous proposal. 

More: Pelosi urges Democrats to win more House seats in the event of Electoral College dispute in presidential election

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House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion relief plan in May, but Senate Republicans declined to take action on the legislation. Since then, Pelosi and Democrats said they would reduce the price of their package by $1 trillion, though Republicans declined the offer. Senate Democrats blocked Senate Republicans’ smaller, $300 billion package in early September, leaving both sides at an impasse in negotiations.  

Nancy Pelosi sitting on a table: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.

© Liz Lynch, Getty Images
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds a weekly press conference at the Capitol on September 24, 2020 in Washington, DC.

Democrats and Republicans have been unable to agree on a number of issues, including the amount of the unemployment benefit, which Republicans say disincentivizes work if it is too generous. Democrats offered $600 in their proposals,

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Texts show Ex-House speaker pushed lawmaker to pass bailout


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio lawmaker leading the charge to repeal a nuclear bailout bill was unsuccessfully pressured by the former House speaker to vote in favor of its passage, newly released records show.

In late May 2019, former House Speaker Larry Householder texted his fellow GOP colleague Rep. Dave Greenspan to ensure he had his vote for the bill that is now at the center of a $60 million federal bribery probe, according to a series of text messages released by the Ohio House on Thursday.

Federal prosecutors in July accused Householder and four others of shepherding energy company money for personal and political use as part of an effort to pass the legislation, then kill any attempt to repeal it at the polls. All five men have pleaded not guilty.

“I really need you to vote yes on HB6, it means a lot to me,” Householder wrote in the text messages released Thursday. “Can I count on you?”

The bill in question would send more than $1 billion to two Ohio nuclear plants near Cleveland and Toledo now owned by Energy Harbor, a former subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp.

It just so happened that Greenspan was sitting down for an interview with FBI agents when he received the text message from Householder, according to the criminal complaint, which identified Greenspan as “Representative 7.”

Greenspan, a Westlake Republican, responded no to Householder’s request, citing “significant challenges” with the bill.

Householder replied, “I just want

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White House urges Congress to pass separate aid bill for airlines

By Andrea Shalal and Steve Holland

a plane sitting on the tarmac at an airport: FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington

© Reuters/Joshua Roberts
FILE PHOTO: American Airlines planes are parked at the gate during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Washington

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is urging U.S. lawmakers to pass separate bills to aid airlines and other sectors, given failure to reach agreement on a broader package of stimulus funding, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Tuesday.

The U.S. Congress has been deadlocked over another round of economic stimulus aimed at blunting the effects of the coronavirus pandemic that has now killed over 200,000 people in the United States.

U.S. airlines, facing a huge drop in demand due to virus-related lockdowns, on Tuesday mounted a last-ditch bid to persuade Congress to approve a new $25 billion bailout to help avert thousands of furloughs set to begin Oct. 1.

Delta Air Lines has agreed to delay a decision on pilot furloughs until Nov. 1, the pilots union said on Tuesday.

Two key Republican senators this week introduced a bill that would authorize $28.8 billion in payroll aid for the airlines. But congressional aides say a stand-alone measure is unlikely to win passage given aid requests from so many other struggling industries.

McEnany said talks about a broader stimulus measure were continuing with House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and said the White House’s agreement to accept a measure valued at $1.5 trillion could still lead to some progress.

In the absence of a bigger bill, she urged Pelosi to work on separate legislation to address the needs of airlines, which have warned that they will be forced to carry out mass layoffs unless they receive additional assistance.

“The onus is really on Speaker Pelosi, so we encourage her to send one-off bills, perhaps airline funding, or other elements that we could work through the process to get to the American people,” she told a briefing at the White House.

Representative Hakeem Jeffries, a member of House Democratic leadership, said the House in mid-May passed a comprehensive $3.4 trillion coronavirus-response bill that the administration rejected, and said any bill had to be “a meaningful agreement.”

“We can’t have a cosmetic fake agreement. … That’s what the president wants, a fake agreement,” he told a weekly briefing.

(Reporting by Steve Holland and Andrea Shalal; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Cynthia Osterman)

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House Democrats hope to pass funding bill to avert shutdown

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats controlling the House hope to pass a government-wide temporary funding bill on Tuesday that would keep federal agencies fully up and running into December and prevent a partial shutdown of the government after the current budget year expires at the end of the month.

But a mini-furor over farm subsidies is threatening to delay passage of the measure. It ignited when Democratic leaders left out a provision requested by President Donald Trump and backed strongly by Capitol Hill Republicans that would give the administration continued immediate authority to dole out Agriculture Department farm bailout funds.

Democrats from farm country are reluctant to approve the measure without the GOP-backed provision, and Tuesday’s vote is in doubt. House passage would send the measure to the GOP-controlled Senate and a potential floor fight, but there’s no appetite on either side for a government shutdown.

Democrats complain that the Trump administration has favored southern states such as Georgia — a key swing state and home of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue — and larger producers in distributing bailout funds. Farmers are suffering from low commodity prices and the effects of higher tariffs imposed by Trump. Trump announced a new $13 billion allotment of bailout funding at a political rally in Wisconsin last week; the provision would keep the door open for additional election-eve pronouncements.

“The Trump Administration has proven they cannot be trusted to distribute payments fairly,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, top Democrat on the Agriculture Committee. She added that the Agriculture Department doesn’t need the authority to meet farm bill obligations and will get the money in November anyway.

The chairman of the Agriculture panel, Pat Roberts, R-Kan., is angry about the omission but said Republicans are not going to spark a potential shutdown confrontation over it.

“I understand there are people upset with the Secretary and what he has done or will do or whatever with regards to (farm) funding,” Roberts said. “But this is desperately needed and there’s 45 to 50 programs that would be in danger, right in the middle of the COVID thing, the farm crisis, and the whole business.”

The stopgap funding bill also comes as negotiations on a huge COVID-19 relief bill have collapsed and as the Capitol has been thrust into an unprecedented political drama with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, which has launched an intense election-season Senate confirmation fight.

The legislation, called a continuing resolution, or CR, in Washington-speak, would keep every federal agency running at current funding levels through Dec. 11, which will keep the government afloat past the election and possibly reshuffle Washington’s balance of power.

The measure also extends many programs whose funding or authorizations lapse on Sept. 30, including the federal flood insurance program, highway and transit programs, and a long set of extensions of various health programs such as a provision to prevent Medicaid cuts to hospitals that serve many poor people.

It also finances the possible transition to a new administration if

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