This week: House returns for pre-election sprint

The House is returning this week for its final work period before the November election, with a government funding fight looming and uncertainty growing over whether Congress will pass a fifth coronavirus relief bill. 

The House, set to reconvene on Monday, has only 12 working days before they are scheduled to leave Washington, D.C., again until after the election. The Senate is currently scheduled to be in for part of October, though senators have questioned, absent a last-minute COVID-19 bill, if they will stick to their full schedule. 

Before they leave, Congress will need to pass a stopgap funding bill by Sept. 30 in order to prevent an election year government shutdown. Lawmakers are expected to use a continuing resolution (CR), which will continue funding at fiscal year 2020 levels, to keep the government open starting on Oct. 1. 

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinBattle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy Overnight Health Care: McConnell: Chance for coronavirus deal ‘doesn’t look that good right now’ | Fauci disagrees with Trump that US rounding ‘final turn’ on pandemic | NIH director ‘disheartened’ by lack of masks at Trump rally McConnell: Chance for coronavirus deal ‘doesn’t look that good right now’ MORE and House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden marks anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, knocks Trump and McConnell Sunday shows – Trump team defends coronavirus response GOP chair defends Trump messaging on masks: ‘To say that he should have known then what we know now isn’t really fair’ MORE (D-Calif.) have agreed to a “clean” CR, meaning it will not include items either side would view as political poison pills. Because of that informal deal the funding bill is not expected to include coronavirus relief amid a stalemate between congressional Democrats and the White House. 

“We are now looking at anomalies in the rest, and we’ll figure out the timing when we do,” Pelosi said during a weekly press conference.

But they have not agreed yet on a length for the stopgap funding bill. 

Democrats are locked in a behind-the-scenes debate about if they should accept a bill that goes into December, a timeline supported by Republicans, or push for a CR that would go into early next year, when Democrats hope they will have more leverage if they win back the Senate and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenCrowd aims ‘lock him up’ chant at Obama during Trump rally Biden campaign plans to run ad during every NFL game until Election Day LA mayor condemns protesters shouting ‘death to police’ outside hospital treating ambushed officers MORE wins the White House. 

“We’ve gone back and forth, it’s a split decision in the caucus. If you can tell us what happens Nov. 3 it is a lot easier. … The uncertainty about the presidential election is an element,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinBattle over timing complicates Democratic shutdown strategy GOP senators say coronavirus deal dead until after election Senate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians

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