House to tackle funding, marijuana in September
The House will likely need to pass a short-term, stopgap funding bill when it returns in mid-September to avert a government shutdown at the end of next month, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) wrote to colleagues on Monday.
“By September 30th, Congress must complete our work on appropriations and other expiring items, such as flood insurance and surface transportation. In July, the Democratic-led House passed legislation to fund nearly all of the government, yet to date the Senate has not held even a single markup of an appropriations bill,” Hoyer wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter. “At this rate, it is likely that we will have to pass a continuing resolution to keep government open past the end of this fiscal year. While that is not ideal, the House will do its job to avert a shutdown that would only further damage our economy.”
That continuing resolution should fund the government past the presidential election in November and into December, when Congress will face yet another threat of a shutdown in the lame-duck session.
Hoyer, the No. 2 Democrat who controls the floor schedule, said the House also will take up legislation from Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler’s (D-N.Y.) known as the MORE Act that would decriminalize marijuana and expunge nonviolent federal cannabis convictions.
The House is slated to return to Washington the week of Sept. 14. The lower chamber that week will vote on two pieces of legislation, authored by Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.), aimed at promoting greater diversity and addressing racial inequality in public schools.
Nadler’s Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act, which ensures pregnant women are not discriminated against or denied accommodations by their employers, will also get a vote.
In addition, the House will take up a resolution by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) that condemns all forms of anti-Asian bias and bigotry related to the coronavirus pandemic.
While millions of Americans are out of work from the pandemic, Democrats and Republicans have struggled to reach a deal on another COVID-19 relief package. Some anticipate it will have to be tied to the stopgap funding bill, known as a continuing resolution, though Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has insisted they run on different tracks.
Pelosi and the White House are still about $1 trillion apart on a new relief package. Pelosi has come down to about $2.2 trillion in aid, while White House chief of staff Mark Meadows has offered $1.3 trillion. The House Democrats believe they have more leverage since they passed a massive relief package back in May called the HEROES Act.
“While we have all been waiting for the Senate to take action on the Heroes Act, it appears that the Republicans who control that chamber are not in a hurry to do their jobs and pass an emergency assistance package to help American workers and their families get through this economic and public health crisis,” Hoyer wrote. “If that changes, the House will return immediately to ensure that emergency assistance is delayed no further. … The American people need this assistance, and this will continue to be our priority in September.”
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