Stopgap bill to avoid partial government shutdown hung up over last-minute riders

Jennifer Shutt, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in Political News

WASHINGTON -- Disputes over potential add-ons were holding up a deal Monday on a monthlong stopgap funding measure needed to avoid a partial government shutdown starting Thursday at midnight.

The continuing resolution is expected to keep the government open through Dec. 20 and fund agencies mostly at their current spending rates held over from fiscal 2019. But House Democrats want exemptions and policy riders in the CR that the White House and Republicans argue instead should be dealt with in a fiscal 2020 wrap-up as soon as next month.

"We expect a clean CR without provisions that can be dealt with in the regular appropriations process, which we continue to work in earnest," a senior administration official said.

Provisions that House Democrats were pushing included extra money for the 2020 census, equal to the $7.6 billion rate of spending for the Census Bureau approved by the Senate late last month.

Democrats also want to include funding to support a 3.1% military pay raise, and to block a provision of the 2015 highway authorization law that would automatically cut $7.6 billion in formula funding for the states on July 1, 2020.

According to sources familiar with the talks, the census funding and transportation rescission were causing problems with some Republicans. But it seemed likely that at minimum the military pay provision would be included as well as the higher rate of census spending.


The measure was also expected to extend numerous expiring health care programs that were temporarily renewed in the most recent stopgap law, such as funding for community health centers and teaching hospitals, as well other miscellaneous programs ranging from the higher education reauthorization law to the Export-Import Bank.

The House and Senate are expected to vote on the stopgap measure this week before the current funding bill expires Thursday. White House officials have indicated several times that President Donald Trump supports the bill, though the president himself hasn't said so.

"The President will sign a clean continuing resolution that lasts through December 20th while the administration and Congress continue to discuss a path forward for full-year spending bills, and we are hopeful that Congress will not add ideas which could complicate the chances of him signing a CR by Thursday night," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said in a statement.

Congressional leaders and the White House reached agreement in July to budget $738 billion for defense-related appropriations and $632 billion for nondefense programs during fiscal 2020. But Republicans and Democrats have not yet agreed how to divide up the funding, particularly on the nondefense side, which includes border security and veterans programs as well as everything from low-income housing to environmental protection to biomedical research.


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