Senate to start work on funding bills with shutdown deadline looming

Senate to start work on funding bills with shutdown deadline looming
© Greg Nash

Senators are set to start work on their fiscal 2020 government funding bills with only weeks to go until the deadline to avoid a government shutdown. 

The Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on four funding bills Thursday, according to a schedule released by Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCoronavirus bill includes more than billion in SNAP funding White House billion emergency request balloons to 2 billion in Senate coronavirus stimulus talks Five sticking points to a T coronavirus deal MORE (R-Ala.): defense; labor, health and human services, and education; energy and water; and state and foreign operations. 

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The panel will also vote on the top-line spending numbers, known as 302(b)s, for the 12 individual spending bills next week. 

The votes will mark the first package of fiscal 2020 funding bills to be taken up by the committee so far this year. While the House has passed 10 out of the 12 individual funding bills, the Senate put its legislation on hold while leadership and President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' MORE hashed out the two-year budget deal

Congress has until Oct. 1 to pass the fiscal 2020 funding bills or a continuing resolution (CR), which would give them more time to negotiate and temporarily continue funding at the fiscal 2019 levels.  

The plan for the Senate Appropriations Committee to move forward with its funding bills comes after House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill Lysol, disinfecting wipes and face masks mark coronavirus vote in House The Hill's 12:30 Report: House to vote on .2T stimulus after mad dash to Washington MORE (D-Md.) said in a letter to House Democrats that they are planning to bring up a CR during the week of Sept. 16 — the week after Congress returns from its current break.  

Senators have acknowledged that a CR of some form will be necessary to prevent a shutdown starting on Oct. 1.

But Senate appropriators are hoping to get at least one significant package to Trump's desk before the deadline, which would limit how much of the government has to be funded by a CR. 

Shelby has floated trying to get a bill that combines funding for defense; labor, health and human services, and education; and energy and water to Trump's desk. 

“It we did that, that would be over 70 percent of the expenditure,” Shelby told reporters about the package before the recess. “That would be progress big time.”