House hoping to avoid government shutdown with vote on temporary spending bill

Ruben Fields
September 23, 2020

It also includes almost $8 billion in nutrition assistance - a central Democratic priority during the negotiations.

"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.

Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues on Monday released a temporary funding plan without the Commodity Credit Corp. or food assistance funding.

Pelosi appeared to believe that Republicans controlling the Senate have little choice but to accept it, but may have lost sight of the needs of her farm-state Democrats. The president last Thursday announced he was drawing $13 billion in aid from the CCC to help rural areas, which are important to his re-election prospects. Swing district Representative Cindy Axne of Iowa issued a statement calling for inclusion of the CCC funds and warning about a shortfall for traditional farm subsidies.

White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said that recent data pointed to a "self-sustaining, strong" recovery, and while a new spending bill "has some elements that could help" it may not be needed after all.

After negotiations broke down, Democrats initially drafted a stop-gap measure that left out the farm aid and nutrition assistance and were scheduled to vote on that measure earlier in the day on Tuesday. "I strongly urge the speaker and House leadership to include an extension of the Commodity Credit Corporation's borrowing authority in the funding bill", she tweeted Tuesday.

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With government funding lapsing on September 30, House Democrats announced Monday they had filed the stopgap funding legislation, but angered Republicans by leaving out new money that President Donald Trump wanted for farmers.

"The Trump administration has proven they can not be trusted to distribute payments fairly", said Senator Debbie Stabenow of MI, a top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee.

House Democrats had unveiled a $3 trillion relief proposal in May, which didn't gain support from the Republicans.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers had hoped to give the U.S. Census Bureau extra time to finish its count of the U.S. population and deliver that information to the president and Congress, but the spending bill didn't provide an extension.

If the stopgap is finalized, lawmakers will try to complete work on the 12 annual appropriations bills for fiscal 2021 in the post-election lame-duck session in November and December.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced in a statement ahead of the vote that she had reached a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republicans for a continuing resolution that would "add almost $8 billion in desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families". Stimulus talks have stalled since early August with both sides about $1 trillion apart in their offers. So far the Senate hasn't drafted any of the bills, and there's likely a battle ahead over paying for Trump's wall on the U.S. -Mexico border and replacing military funds he raided to pay for the wall previous year. Additionally, the quick-approaching election and the Senate's preparing to nominate a new Supreme Court justice have exacerbated the variance between the positions - and, in turn, affected the chances of a second stimulus check reaching Americans.

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