House Votes to Avoid Government Shutdown for Two Months

The U.S. Capitol at sunset in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (CN) – In an effort to avoid a looming government shutdown, the House of Representatives on Thursday approved a short-term spending bill that would fund the government into November as lawmakers continue to negotiate over a longer agreement.

The bill cleared the House 301-123 on Thursday afternoon and funds the government through Nov. 21, for the most part at the levels set by current law. The resolution, released on Wednesday evening, includes money that will go to farmers who have suffered losses in the ongoing trade war with China, a provision that reportedly had been a sticking point in negotiations over the stopgap bill.

Congress faces an Oct. 1 deadline to fund the government and the short-term spending bill the House passed on Thursday is an effort to push back that deadline as the Senate continues negotiations over long-term packages. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the short-term bill in the near future.

“We don’t have to have drama, we don’t have to have panic, we don’t have to have people saying, ‘why can’t the Congress do its work?’” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor Thursday.

While the passage of the short-term bill lessens the likelihood of a government shutdown at the end of the month, the fights over funding the government remain, especially in the Senate. Senate Democrats on Wednesday blocked a spending package on the Senate floor amid renewed arguments over funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

Earlier this month, the Trump administration released a list of military programs from which it would draw $3.6 million to build a wall along the southern border. Democrats are now balking at Republicans’ refusal to include language in new defense bills that would block Trump from siphoning more money from military accounts in the future.

Democrats fear the new spending bills will include money that will go towards the wall. They have a growing majority of voters on their side: A Hill-HarrisX poll released Thursday found 57% of registered voters disagree with the Trump administration’s reallocation of Defense Department funding to build the wall.

The Senate Appropriations Committee advanced a trio of spending bills on Thursday morning, including one that allots $250 million that would go to states and local governments to help them strengthen election security.

Senator Richard Shelby, the Alabama Republican who chairs the Appropriations Committee, expressed some hope Thursday that senators will be able to clear the remaining long-term spending packages, though he said the work will need to be bipartisan.

“Ultimately I believe, as most of you know, we have to move forward together,” Shelby said at a committee meeting Thursday. “To do that we have to be able to work in good faith. If we cannot, this process won’t very well at all, if at all. The members of the committee on both sides know how to work together to get the job done.”

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