House Approves Short-Term Bill to Avoid a Shutdown

The effort to stave off a shutdown less than six weeks before Election Day comes as the looming brawl over filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death has further intensified partisan rancor on Capitol Hill.

Congress will ultimately have to return in a lame-duck session, the period between Election Day and the chamber’s adjournment at the end of the year, and approve the annual must-pass legislation needed to fund the government. Democrats had initially pushed to extend the short-term legislation into February, in the hopes that their party would capture the White House and Senate and be able to negotiate more favorable deals under a new president and Congress. But Republicans refused.

Democrats also agreed to exclude provisions that would have provided additional funds for election security and extended critical deadlines for the U.S. census to submit redistricting data.

The measure would prevent furloughs at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by allowing the agency, which has seen a loss in revenue in part because of the pandemic, to raise premium processing fees. It would also extend funding for a flood insurance program through next September, as well as funding for a program for highway construction and maintenance.

The bill also included language that would prevent Medicare recipients from seeing a significant increase in their premiums partly because of measures taken by the administration to counter the effects of the pandemic. But it did not include any additional relief to help American families and businesses recover from the toll of the pandemic, despite growing pressure from rank-and-file members for negotiators to break a stalemate on a broader legislative package.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers urged their party leaders on Tuesday to keep the House in session until Congress approved another pandemic relief bill, writing in a letter that “our constituents do not want us home campaigning while businesses continue to shutter.”

“It has been suggested by some that members of Congress are anxious to return to their districts to campaign in advance of the Nov. 3 election, even if that means leaving Capitol Hill without passing another Covid-19 relief bill,” wrote the lawmakers, led by Representative Jared Golden, Democrat of Maine. “We want to be very clear that we do not in any way agree with this position.”

A handful of moderate Democrats are also considering signing onto a Republican-led effort that would, if it gained the support of 218 lawmakers, force a vote on legislation to revive a popular federal loan program for small businesses, according to a person familiar with the plans, who requested anonymity to disclose details of private discussions.

Catie Edmondson contributed reporting.

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House passes short-term spending bill to avoid government shutdown

The deal will fund the government through Dec. 11.

The House approved late Tuesday night, in a 359-57-1 vote, a stopgap bill to avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month.

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did not vote yes or no, but “present.”

The Senate will likely vote on the measure by the end of the week — where it is also expected to pass — before it heads to President Donald Trump’s desk for his signature. The stopgap measure must pass by Oct. 1 to keep U.S. agencies open.

“We have reached an agreement with Republicans on the CR to add nearly $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families,” Pelosi said in a statement. “We also increase accountability in the Commodity Credit Corporation, preventing funds for farmers from being misused for a Big Oil bailout.”

“To help the millions of families struggling to keep food on the table during the pandemic, Democrats have renewed the vital, expiring lifeline of Pandemic EBT for a full year and enabled our fellow Americans in the territories to receive this critical nutrition assistance,” she continued. “Democrats secured urgently needed assistance for schoolchildren to receive meals despite the coronavirus’s disruption of their usual schedules, whether virtual or in-person, and expanded Pandemic EBT access for young children in child care. We also extended key flexibility for states to lower administrative requirements on SNAP for families in the middle of this crisis.”

The surprise late-night agreement came just days after talks crumbled late last week over policy disagreements.

Democrats have contended that the farm aid for the Commodity Credit Corporation — a GOP priority — “wasn’t help for farmers” but was “a bottomless, unaccountable political slush fund.”

“House Democrats already passed more than $30 billion in targeted and tailored emergency aid to farm country in response to the pandemic as part of the Heroes Act, including language to ensure greater transparency and accountability with the Administration’s use of the Commodity Credit Corporation, including decreasing the Secretary’s ability to spend billions of taxpayer dollars without telling Congress,” the aide added.

After lengthy negotiations did not produce a bipartisan agreement with Republicans, House Democrats introduced their own proposal Monday afternoon funding government until Dec. 11, moving “full steam ahead” on a vote Tuesday, according to a senior Democratic aide.

Recognizing the lack of an agreement, a senior House Democratic aide warned that the bill “may get stuck in the Senate” after House passage,

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