House passes bill to avert shutdown

The House passed legislation on Tuesday night to avert a government shutdown through Dec. 11, sending the bill to the Senate with just eight days left before current federal funding expires.

Lawmakers passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 359-57 after Democrats earlier Tuesday rekindled negotiations with Republicans that had temporarily stalled because of a dispute over farm aid. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezFacebook has no current plan to end the Trump suspension New York court worker arrested, accused of threats related to inauguration Ocasio-Cortez: Facebook, Zuckerberg 'bear partial responsibility' for insurrection MORE (D-N.Y.) voted "present."

The government would shut down on Oct. 1 if Congress doesn’t pass a spending bill in time, a scenario that both parties want to avoid mere weeks before Election Day and amid the coronavirus pandemic.


The stopgap spending bill will now set up a clash over government funding in the lame-duck session after the November elections.

House Democrats initially introduced their own stopgap measure on Monday that did not include a provision sought by the Trump administration to ensure that farmer assistance payments continue flowing through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which has a borrowing limit of $30 billion.

Democrats planned to hold a vote on their bill Tuesday afternoon, setting up a potential pingpong scenario between the two chambers with time running out before current funding expires.

But talks between Democrats and Republicans resumed on Tuesday to resolve differences on the farm aid as well as an expiring program created by a coronavirus relief measure earlier this year to ensure that children who normally receive free or reduced-cost meals at schools still have access while they are closed for in-person instruction because of the pandemic.

The agreement struck between the two parties adds $8 billion in nutrition assistance programs and allows for the farm aid distributed through the CCC to continue but with measures sought by Democrats to prohibit payments to fossil fuel refiners and importers.


It expands the expiring program providing low-income children with meals to include child care centers impacted by pandemic-related closures and gives states continued flexibility for food stamp requirements for another year.

The Senate is likely to take up the bill as soon as this week.

Senate Republicans hope to avoid a damaging potential government shutdown and are eager to instead focus on filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader Ginsburg, George Floyd among options for 'Remember the Titans' school's new name Bipartisan anger builds over police failure at Capitol Lindsey Graham praises Merrick Garland as 'sound choice' to serve as attorney general MORE, who died on Friday.

President TrumpDonald TrumpLil Wayne gets 11th hour Trump pardon Trump grants clemency to more than 100 people, including Bannon Trump expected to pardon Bannon: reports MORE announced last week during a rally in Wisconsin that his administration would make an additional $13 billion available to help farmers recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has previously allotted billions in aid for farmers — a key rural voter constituency for his reelection hopes — to soften the impact of the president's trade wars with China.

Democrats, meanwhile, opposed including the CCC funding in the stopgap spending bill and argued that it amounts to a "political slush fund" to help Trump mitigate the effects of his trade policies.


But House Democratic leaders had also faced pushback from some members of their own caucus about excluding the farm aid from the initial stopgap bill.

Rep. Cindy AxneCindy AxneWill Pelosi bail out the GOP on election controversy Iowa losses underscore Democrats' struggles with attracting rural voters Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus MORE (D-Iowa), a first-term lawmaker in a competitive district, publicly called on leadership to include the farm aid.

“I am deeply frustrated that once again Washington is playing games with the vital aid that Iowa’s farmers need as they continue to struggle with the long-term effects of a public health crisis, an economic downturn, a trade war, and recent natural disasters,” Axne said in a statement on Monday.