Senate passes stopgap funding measure to avoid government shutdown

The Senate passed a resolution with broad bipartisan support Wednesday to fund the government through Dec. 11, averting the possibility of a shutdown before the new fiscal year begins at midnight.

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Trump, who was holding a re-election rally in Minnesota, was expected to sign the measure when he returned to the White House. The stopgap measure passed by an 84-10 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate. The Democratic-controlled House passed the legislation, known as a continuing resolution, last week on a 359-57 vote.

The legislation includes a bailout for farmers — which Trump and Republicans fought to include — in exchange for boosts in funding for nutrition benefits for poor families requested by Democrats. It also continues to fund various parts of the federal government.

Farming and food benefits for poor families appeared to be the only coronavirus-related items included in the resolution as top Democrats, the White House and Republicans continue to haggle over continued Covid-19 relief for families.

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., met Wednesday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to again discuss the next round of coronavirus aid. The House plans to vote Thursday on an updated aid package that includes compromises Democrats have made, she said.

“We will be proceeding with our vote … on the updated Heroes Act in order to formalize our proffer to Republicans in the negotiations to address the health and economic catastrophe in our country,” she said in a statement.

Mnuchin said Wednesday on Fox Business that the updated $2.2 trillion, which was slimmed down from the $3.4 trillion bill the House passed in May, is something “we’re not going to do.”

“The good news is the speaker has come down from her $3.4 trillion deal. If there’s a fair compromise, we’re prepared to do it,” he said.

The interim spending bill also sets up a potential political fight toward the end of the year when it expires and lawmakers have to pass another temporary spending resolution or an annual spending bill just before a new Congress is sworn in, along with, potentially, a new administration.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., criticized the process last week, saying that the resolution is only temporary and that both chambers need to work on passing traditional spending bills.

“I’m hopeful that everyone will put their heads together to get the appropriation process done, and we’ll probably do it in an omnibus, not single appropriation bills, which is not a good way to do it, either,” he said.

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